For the pioneers, it was in a crowd of college kids clustered around a single tiny monitor next to a buzzing university mainframe. For folks just a little younger, it was the arcades and bars and bowling alleys where the first resonant beeps of the Atari classics blended with the sounds of Thriller piped in through the overhead speakers. For people my age, it was the school playground. In this digital stockyard, we swapped Nintendo tips, cartridges, and monthly gaming magazines. For people a little younger than me, it happened in a massive dorm room Smash Brothers Brawl or in a matchmaking miracle on Xbox Live. And for very many of us across all these ages, it was at our neighborhood gaming stores, a bright haven stuffed with games, staffed by enthusiasts, and haunted by players on the hunt for a good bargain on a slightly-used copy of Final Fantasy VIII. Not that the shopping was always the point—even if you couldn’t afford a new game that day, you had a good chance of finding and joining in on a scintillating argument with friends and frenemies on the merits of Microsoft vs. Nintendo vs. Sony.