6 Moments That Defined 90s Console Gaming

Our idea of what video games are for is constantly changing. What started out as a way to get people…

Laurence Gardner


Our idea of what video games are for is constantly changing. What started out as a way to get people to spend money in arcades turned into a way for nerds to achieve their dream of rescuing an elven maiden, and gaming has now turned into a social phenomenon. Nowadays, they’re used by everyone from teachers, to the military, to sexual deviants.

This article is dedicated to the moments that made us realise that gaming could be awesome in whole new ways they hadn’t even considered yet – that changed our whole perspective of the medium.


6. Super Mario Kart (SNES)

Defining Moment: Plugging in that 2nd Controller

The year was 1992. Up until that point, you’d stomped a few Goombas in Super Mario Land 1 and 2, and you’d destroyed an accumulated total of 9484742 lines of blocks in Tetris. However, all of your greatest achievements in video games were limited to an audience of one person that cared. Maybe you’d played Street Fighter in an arcade with your friend, but chances were you’d never thought about games as an especially sociable activity.

Back then, if someone told you that one day hot nerd girls would dress up as video game characters you’d have laughed them out of your basement.

Mario Kart is the game that opened our eyes. Suddenly, your friend could come over and you’d spend hours in your room together, possibly prompting your parents to have some discussions in which they decided that they’d love you no matter what your sexual orientation. Friendships were made and broken over a well executed feather jump, or a perfectly judged green shell spinning towards your opponent on the final straight of a race.

Successful use of a banana skin earned you bragging rights for the next 3 weeks.

Mario Kart (and to a lesser extent Bomberman) changed the world of gaming in ways that not many of the 12 year olds who chose to play instead of doing their homework could have appreciated. It ushered in the age of 4 teenage friends clustered around a tv screen, laughing and screaming insults at each other. Other games (such as Goldeneye) would later take that formula and improve it to borderline-perfection.

I’m the guy that, when asked by my girlfriend how many children I’d like to have, said 3. Because an N64 has 4 controllers.

Gradually, the social aspect of console gaming has made it become more main-stream, less geeky, less uncool. And it was all made possible by an Italian plumber and a giant gorilla in go-karts.

Thanks, guys. You earned that mysteriously levitating bottle of champagne.

Modern Equivalent: Halo 2

In the 00s, Halo 2 basically did the same for online gaming. While PC gamers got there quite a bit ahead of console gamers (see: Counterstrike and Diablo 2), grudgingly buying an Xbox Live account and Halo 2 in 2004 showed me a world in which I could spend hours running around getting no-scoped by screaming 10 year olds. While alone, in my room. So I could feel like I had friends without all that inconvenience of leaving the house or putting on clothes.

Hurry up, guys, my mum wants me in bed by 11.