UK based gaming blog Rock Paper Shotgun has been doing an absolutely fantastic and fascinating series of articles called: Gaming Made Me. The basic premise being the exploration of those games of which most influenced who we are today as gamers and as individuals. The examination illuminates the emotional and educational experiences that gaming has provided and how that has shaped their growth as individuals. In some cases this looks at how those games defined the concept of a “video game” and in others, most, the short little examinations (or not-so-short) look at how these influence our interaction with the real world. It is a wonderful bit of games journalism that I’m surprised has gotten as little attention as it has and, it has certainly got me thinking about those games which have had a significant influence on me and shaped me as both a gamer and a person.
You can find the entire series by clicking here, and you can hit the jump to examine my pitiful attempts at emulation.
5.) King’s Quest 6: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow
Glancing over the wikipedia entry for King’s Quest 6 (which is, more accurately, a Prince’s quest) it might also be my first tangential exposure to H. P. Lovecraft as the game’s villain is named Abdul Alhazared. In truth, this game marks my first real experience of gaming as a family experience; as me and my dad played through the game on separate saves. Sharing tips and discussion about the game during family dinners is fond, and mostly unique experience (my father is not really a gamer). Though I’ve never a huge fan of point and click adventures I must admit that the simplicity of their interface makes for a certain broader appeal. This game, more than any other before it, also showed the potential power of games as a story-telling medium. I cannot recall many, if any games, before this really grabbing my attention storywise and sucking me into its world. But the family aspect is really what I remember most which brings me to my next game…
4.) Kareoke Revolution
I know this is a bit of a strange game to be listed here but this is another game that managed to provide significant entertainment at family gatherings and it is the reason why Harmonix will always get my dollar before Activision. This is really the only video game that I remember playing with my whole family, not just my nuclear family but aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends all played this game together and, while I’ve yet to really introduce my parents to the Wii, remains the first time I remember gaming as a family experience.
3.) Final Fantasy III aka Final Fantasy VI
The first and only Final Fantasy game I’ve played to completion. Like King’s Quest VI before it, Final Fantasy VI is a shining example of how to tell a story. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m still lukewarm on the whole menu based combat silliness but FFVI managed to transcend the limitations of its gameplay to become a truly memorable experience. Part of that has to do with character. Few games No other games I know of created a cast of 14 playable characters and somehow manged to created not only fascinating and complex back stories for each but also managed to craft compelling relationships between the characters as well. While I have played games with compelling characters since, none have managed to quite reach the heights of FFVI. FFVI is also the first game where I can remember really falling in love with a video game soundtrack and, for me at least, this represents the high water mark of Nobuo Uemetsu’s work. While King’s Quest VI is the game the wet my appetite for games with compelling narratives FFVI is the game that sparked a ravenous hunger for epic, sprawling, character driven games.
2.) Interstate ’76
I’ve used this blog to harp on my love for this alternate history 1976 car combat game in the past so I won’t spend too long talking about it here but I76 is a franchise whose non-existence in today’s gaming generation is almost a physical pain for me. I76 marks my first extended delve into online PC gaming. It had a community the embraced the spirit of the game in absolutely splendid ways coloring the whole experience in a very role playing game kind of way. Little known fact: the “X” I frequently tack onto the end of my gaming handles is a direct reference to one of my I76 persona’s: Vigilante X (itself a tribute to Speed Racer’s Racer X). The online community of I76 reveled in a sort of collective imagination that I have yet to see repeated in games today (outside of MMOs anyway) and an experience I continue to long still.
1.) Just About Any Nintendo 64 Era N64 Game
Before your console was online you would instead lug your controller over to your friends house, plop down on his couch, and game until your mind was numb. While the advent of the Wii seeks to replicate this side-by-side gaming experience for me at least the option of plopping down on a friends couch in some dusty basement and playing round after round of Goldeneye is a thing of the past. As I get older I realize that the Nintendo 64, and its local multiplayer, is my gaming equivalent of that snow laden uphill walk to school. It is an experience tangled up with fond memories of friends and long summer afternoons of gaming with no looming responsibility. It is an experience that as an adult I think I will always be trying to recapture.
So there you have it. There are a ton of games I’ve missed and that likely deserve to be on this list.