A few decades ago the masses believed video games were a waste of time for lackadaisical youths to pacify themselves while ignoring their responsibilities as both kids and young adults. As more and more people started understanding the benefits of gaming so too did the perception of what a video game is and, most importantly, the benefits gaming can bestow on a person’s life changed. Hi, my name is James Bullock and I am a gamer who has spent the better part of his existence testing the laws of physics, exploring the vastness of a world ruined, and been a champion inside various arenas courtesy of digitized worlds both driven by reality and created through pure unbelievable ingenuity unlike anything seen by human eyes. And as a gamer I’ve discovered something else video games provide: life lessons. Today I examine the game that literally changed gaming forever during the 16-bit era, “Mortal Kombat”.
The Hero is Within You (“Mortal Kombat”)
My life changed in 1993 – thanks to my parents that Christmas saw me add my second console to what would become a nice little collection in the Sega Genesis. I was introduced to the system thanks to spending a weekend with my aunt and her stepson who is about five years older than me. We spent the night playing “Sonic the Hedgehog” and I knew I needed to have that system in my house. By the time Christmas season came around I still wanted a “Sonic” game, but my main focus for getting a Genesis had shifted dramatically from a high-speed platformer to the fighting game that would eventually revolutionize an entire industry, “Mortal Kombat”. I had the opportunity to play a “Mortal Kombat” arcade cabinet at the local skating rink a few months prior and couldn’t get it out of my head. As fun as “Street Fighter II” was, nothing compared to the unbridled violence & difficulty of the original “MK” (so many precious quarters were lost that day and I couldn’t even make it to the Endurance fights). Discovering from another player that “MK” was available on consoles with the Sega edition having all the blood & gore like the arcade version just reinforced the fact the Sega Genesis needed to be mine.
Unfortunately my Christmas that year wasn’t perfect. “Mortal Kombat” was sold out everywhere in my area (this was before online shopping and video games being stocked en masse by all retail stores). Constantly checking after work, my dad secured a rental copy that allowed me to play it throughout the next three days (with the store being closed on Sunday for the holiday it added another day without being charged extra). I honed my skills, but Shang Tsung was too much for me to handle in that short time. It would take some time and a couple of more weekend rentals, but I eventually found great success. My “Mortal Kombat” fandom wouldn’t waver and I became enamored with the lore the franchise created. It was learning the reasons as to why each person was fighting and eventually defending their turf (or trying to conquer someone else’s homeland) that I discovered one of the greatest truths behind “Mortal Kombat”: heroes aren’t born, they step up when no one else will in the face of danger.
As the series progressed and villains superior to Shang Tsung started invading Earthrealm or just tore it all asunder, the men & women like Lui Kang & Sonya Blade who knew they had the power to stop them never gave up because they understood if they didn’t do something no one could or maybe even would. Sometimes it’s easy to look in the direction of others to solve problems both minor & major, but the mirror will tell the tale of who should really step up and perform the duties of a hero (or it could be that person who looks identical to you and challenges you to a “Mirror Match” that is the real problem solver).
Have you learned any major life lessons from playing “Mortal Kombat” or any video game for that matter? Leave them in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.