This content was originally posted on www.theaussiezombie.blogspot.com as part of the Stitch Blog Tour in 2013.
Thanks so much to Kat for hosting me today!
I’m not sure how many of you out there had the same experience, but over this past holiday season, the television in my family’s home certainly became what can only be described as a “conflict box.” (And yes, I stole that phrase from the DirecTV ads.)
You see, my family likes to spend time together when we’re all in the same place for a week with nothing to do, which I suppose is a good thing. But instead of creating some “quality” time playing a board game or striking up a conversation (this is reality, after all), what we all want to do is watch something together on the TV. And this is where the problem arises.
Like most families, we can never agree on what to watch. My mom and I can only stomach so many hours of sports, and with the lack of new comedy programming over the holidays, we were faced with a short supply of shows that the whole family could enjoy. So I came up with a solution which I thought solved everyone’s problems – it had an entertaining, high-action storyline with a mild but exciting level of creepiness, it was something completely new we’d never watched before, and it even had interactive elements that we could all work on together. I suggested that the family all watch me play my newest videogame, Resident Evil 6.
Now, perhaps in some households blowing the heads off zombies is not considered a family-friendly pastime, but in my home, it kind of is. Over the years we’ve spent many hours watching one another play all sorts of videogames, and in our experience, as long as the game has an actual storyline and some puzzle-solving elements (sorry, Call of Duty multiplayer fans!), this is actually quite an engaging activity for the whole family to partake of, even if only one person is holding the controller. And in my house, when it comes to whole-family entertainment, one game series holds the prize above all others: Zelda. (Zing! Bet you thought I was going to say Resident Evil, didn’tcha?) And in a close second comes Resident Evil.
Ever since the first Resident Evil came out in 1996 when I was the tender age of 11, my family has been sitting down together to thrash zombies and all the other nightmarish Bio Organic Weapons dreamed up by the geniuses at Capcom in an effort to rid the world of the ravages of the horrific T-/G-/t-Veronica-/X-/etc.-viruses. Initially, this wholesome ritual began as a fun way to pass the time while my older cousin babysat me and my younger brothers. He would play and we would watch and this would often result in all of us running screaming from the room when the game took an unexpectedly scary turn. No, they didn’t have 1080p HD graphics in 1996, but they had clever gameplay and lots of pixelated blood and we had imaginations. I can still remember the good old days when my brothers couldn’t sleep unless the game’s case – with its gruesome zombie-laden cover – was safely tucked out of view.
And as time went on, my brothers and I grew bolder and took the reins ourselves. We would look forward to the new installments of the series that came out every couple years, and whenever possible, we would play it together, unraveling the secrets of the evil, accident-prone Umbrella Corporation and cleaning up whatever mess they left behind this time.
And as the years went by, the games only got better with each release. The graphics improved, the gameplay got more intense, the voice acting went from bad to worse (though finally got pretty decent in this latest one), and the monsters started to look frighteningly real. I remember vividly one time in college when one of my guy friends stopped by while I was playing RE4 and wanted to take a turn. I handed over the controller, and within moments, he – a grown man – had paused the game and stepped out of the room to catch his breath and calm his pounding heart. The game was THAT good. In that moment, I thought to myself, “THAT’S what I want to do with my life – I want to create something that makes people REACT.” I thought maybe one day I might become a game designer myself, and create my own horrifying post-apocalyptic world to frighten the bejesus out of children the Earth over. It would be a dream come true.
And so this year with Christmas behind us and New Years not on the horizon for a few more days, I thought nostalgically, “What better way to bring the family together this holiday season than some good old fashioned zombie slaying fun?” At first my loved ones were enthusiastic, excitedly gathering around the TV to watch as the game began and offering their assistance and praise as I struggled my way through a terrifyingly realistic urban outbreak. Fast forward 30 hours of gameplay later, and, well, let’s just say their enthusiasm had waned.
But as I sat there defiantly pressing on to the final boss – my family rapidly hurling various colorful expletives my direction in an effort to retake control of the TV – it dawned on me. Maybe I never became the videogame designer I’d once dreamed, but I’d found another way to make people react: my writing. That wasn’t my conscious intention when I set out to pen Stitch – I just wanted to write a fun book that I, as a reader, would enjoy – but six months and 100+ reviews later, I realized that that’s just what I’d done. I’d created something that inspired people to react – to ask questions, to rant and rave, to put off their responsibilities to keep reading, to beseech me to “just start writing the next book already!”
And so I’d like to take a moment to say thank you, Resident Evil, for planting that seed inside me. No, not the seed that makes my arm explode into some grotesque mutated form intent on strangling the life out of any creature unfortunate enough to cross my path… (Whew! Glad I avoided that one.) Thank you for planting the seed that made me want to MAKE something, to create something worth reading, worth talking about, worth reacting to. If not for you, Resident Evil, there’s a good chance Stitch would never have made it onto paper. So to all the green herbs and first aid sprays, assault shotguns and explosive barrels, bloodthirsty undead and mutant predators, cheers! I couldn’t have done it without you.