As I write this, it is the night before the premiere episode of "Level 4!" That's how we refer to the seasons of the show around here. Pretty funny, huh? Since Level 1, I have learned a lot about the expectations that sometimes come from being a Replayer.
When I get to know Replayers for the first time, I'm often asked, "What console do you have? Are you a PlayStation or Xbox person?"
I typically reply, "Neither. The last time I played a console was when Nintendo 64 first came out." Then I imagine their eyes fluttering like butterflies in disbelief, not about the console, but that I might be the same age as their mom. To be honest with you, I can't believe it, either.
If they do ask why I haven't had a console since the N64, I have to give that same answer I've given countless times before:
"I have cerebral palsy and I'm unable to use the standard controller."
This answer often leaves people at a loss for a moment. I imagine them staring down at their shoes looking for the right response, then eventually raising their head to see a very short woman in a wheelchair before apologizing in a childlike whisper.
But I reassure them: "Oh, that's alright, I live the life of a V.I.P." When they look at me puzzled, I explain, "I come with my own set of wheels and parking space, not to mention I always have the best seat in the house!" And hopefully, they laugh.
Other questions follow from Shana's Replayer FAQ:
"Well, what games do you have on PC?" - I don't have a PC, I have a Mac.
"Then, if you're not playing games, why do you watch Retro Replay?" - Well, I'm glad you asked! (And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my impression of Victor Sullivan!)
Rob Paulsen, an actor who has given life to such characters as Yakko Warner of Animaniacs and Pinky of Pinky and The Brain, has a wonderful motto about life:
"Laughter is the best medicine, you can't OD and the refills are free!"
That, my friends and fellow Replayers is the answer...
When I said I've watched Retro Replay from Level 1, I mean I watched the very first episode when it aired. Before there was live chat and membership. I remember that night vividly... (insert dream sequence here)
I had been in excruciating pain for a little over a week, and it was starting to affect my sleep. I planned to go to bed early, but the knife-piercing pain had other ideas. So I decided to peruse YouTube to find something to distract me. Just as I was about to watch my favorite Twisted Toonz video... (insert angelic choir) in my "recommendations" was RETRO REPLAY - Amazing Spider-man vs. Nolan & Troy!
Now, if you were to ask Nolan about this episode, he would say, "I don't want to talk about it!"
Newer Replayers might ask, "Oh, is that when he broke the TV?" No, that will happen later.
The episode had me laughing so hard, needless to say, I forgot all about my pain, at least for a little while. It was then I realized that this was something I needed, and gave me something to look forward to every week no matter how bad my pain was. By the end of Level 1, my pain had been managed, and I was slowly on the mend.
At first, I wasn't too sure if I wanted to join in chat because of a lack of video game knowledge. They were all talking about a game called Uncharted and a guy named Nathan Drake. I, of course, had no idea who or what they were talking about. Then when asked, "What's the last game you played?" boy, the reaction I got when I said, "Duck Hunt," made me think that perhaps I was too old to chat with these young whippersnappers!
So, for a little while, I lurked until I found a way to make it fun.
No one paid attention, so I waited…
Someone else typed, "30 mins you guys." That encouraged me to continue.
That did it! I broke the chat… into laughter! For a while, there were some that thought the automated countdown was something Drew enabled in the chat. That, to me, is the greatest compliment.
That was quite an enjoyable day! I wore a white poet's shirt and black vest with skull and crossbones leggings, and the "pièce de résistance," a fishtail! (Seriously, check out the photo here.) The reason for the ensemble: I am a volunteer with a non-profit, and I was at an event to help raise money for it. (I'll tell you that story later.)
That was my last social event before the pandemic because of the nature of my disability: it puts me in the high-risk category. Solution: self-isolation. Not knowing how long it would last, at first I thought it would be a great opportunity to let the creativity flow, and there's always Retro Replay, right?
By April 2020, Retro Replay was in official lockdown. The hosts of Retro Replay were in their homes, and, through the internet, they showed us some special, never-before-seen content.
Then, one day, I saw tweets from other Replayers: half were sad, and half were angry and the rest were a mixture of both. Later that afternoon I got the email that Troy Baker was leaving Retro Replay. I'll be honest when I read that the first time it was like a punch to the gut. The show for me was my "happy place," and I love both Nolan and Troy like family and always will. At the time, I wondered if the show would survive?
2020 can just go flush itself down the toilet!
While this was swirling around me, and my days began to blur, a lifeline was thrown to me in the form of a tweet from none other than @watery_tart19 herself, Brandy Brown. "The Happy Hour," as it came to be known, became a virtual hang-out for all Replayers! Ok, so it's not the holodeck in Star Trek, but it's the best we can do. I have met people from all over the country and around the world, something that would not have happened pre-COVID! I can't really tell you what goes on at the happy hour, but… let’s just say they made me their "designated driver!"
Why are you laughing? It's true! Look, I have a shirt to prove it!
Despite having the happy hour before the show on Thursdays (shameless plug) as well as Nolan, Drew, PJ, Paul, Stephanie, and Pagan picking the show up by the bootstraps and knocking it out of the park, I still felt stagnate in the pool of creativity. That's when another lifeline was thrown, and this time it came from Nolan North himself via Cameo from another Replayer named Melanie Steiner. Even now, tears are welling… words cannot express how much that video has meant to me. Since that video was sent to me, I have written 5 poems, and 3 have been published! I watch the video almost daily to keep me motivated. Spring turned to summer, then to fall. Sometime in October (it's my birthday, too), I received another video message from Nolan! This time it came from Charlotte Merritt through Retro Replay.
My hope for you, dear reader, is that you binge-watch all 3 seasons of Retro Replay to truly appreciate the show and its growth, and thereby see the growth within the community. Because it’s the people within the community that make the show possible.
I also hope I was able to convey the love I have for Retro Replay and why I am very proud to say, "I am not a gamer, but I am a Replayer all the way!"
Who out there is a Replayer but not a big gamer? Share your own story in the comments!