For those of us who play video games, we all have genres or kinds of games that we like. Console, PC, handheld… doesn’t matter. These are the games that have never left us for one reason or the other. The games that have become our favorites over time. Games that we just keep coming back to because we love them or there’s a nostalgia factor that accompanies them.
However, a question keeps getting passed around various gaming spaces over the years. Generally, I’ve seen it go around a few times on Twitter, but I’ve also seen it in my various Discord servers and such. But regardless of where, the question remains the same:
What are the games that shaped you?
These games may not necessarily be our favorites, but they’re games that shaped us into the kinds of players we are today. Maybe it’s the first game we had ever played or the first game we played of a specific genre.
Given that it’s Getting to Know You Week for Blaugust, this felt like the perfect opportunity to revisit the question, dedicate more of an explanation to my choices, and figure out what games actually set me on the gaming path I’ve been on for the majority of my life.
Super Mario Bros.
One of the very first games I ever played.
As a young kid, we didn’t have a video game console of any type in my house, despite my father having a history of enjoying games and all things computer. None of my childhood friends seemed to have any sort of game system, either.
The only time I could ever play video games as a child was when my family would visit one of my aunts over the holidays as her son had an assortment of game consoles over the years hooked up to a TV in the basement.
Us kids would congregate down there away from the adults and play games like Duck Hunt or Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, but for some reason, the one game that really stood out to me was Super Mario Bros..
I’m not entirely sure why, especially since it’s a platformer and I’m not a huge fan of them nowadays.
However, this is one of those games that I still remember playing with my cousins even to this day, so it definitely had to take the top spot on this list. Without it, I don’t know that I’d be gaming today.
The first game I ever bought for myself.
Y’all. When Pokemon came out in the US in the late 90s, it was the biggest deal in my school. And I don’t know about you, but when I was 14, I still had it in my head that I wanted to fit in with the “cool kids” even though that was definitely not me.
Also, I was participating in some theatre programs through a local performing arts school at the time, and Pokemon was all any of the other kids my age were playing when we had downtime in rehearsals or when we weren’t on stage during shows. And I remember really, really wanting Pokemon so I could play, too, and trade with the other kids.
There was just one problem. I didn’t have a Game Boy to play it on.
Now, my birthday was a few months after Pokemon released. I knew I could have just asked for it. But somehow, I had gotten it into my head that it would be so much better if I bought it for myself.
I remember saving up money from my allowance and some I still had left over from my birthday, going to the local GameStop (although it might have still been E.B. Games at the time… Am I showing my age here? Probably.), picking out a GameBoy and eventually, the coveted game: Pokemon Blue.
I played the hell out of Pokemon Blue. My very first starter was Bulbasaur as I deemed him the cutest. (Those were simpler times back then and, as a kid, I absolutely did not care about making sure my team was optimal. I still don’t, honestly.) That Bulbasaur stayed with me on my team all through the Elite Four.
I never quite maxed out the Pokedex, but I have some very fond memories of talking with castmates backstage and trading Pokemon if we had one they wanted or we needed to trade one to get it to evolve. It made passing time between appearances on the stage so worth it.
World of Warcraft
My first MMO.
When I was still in high school, I had been dating an individual who was… less than stellar. He had been really into EverQuest, and that was the first time I had ever been exposed to the concept of an MMORPG. At that point in time, I was really into text-based roleplay forums, and EverQuest sounded like I could take that text RP experience and actually have an avatar and play with other people all over the place which I was sort of already doing.
Fortunately, I never got into EverQuest. I say “fortunately” because I suspect that ex probably would have ruined the whole experience for me.
However, during my sophomore year of college, I remember walking into one of my housemates’ rooms to ask her a question and I saw she was playing World of Warcraft. I honestly don’t even remember what the race of the character she was playing was. I don’t remember where she was in the game. But I do remember just staring at her computer screen in shock because World of Warcraft was without a doubt the most beautiful computer game I had ever seen in my life at that time.
And I wanted to play in that world.
I treated myself to a copy over the holiday, but waited to actually start playing until I was back on campus so I could ask her questions if I had them. And I had several. I rolled myself up a night elf druid on a PvE server, and my friend actually ran around with me for a bit until I got the basics.
And then I discovered there were designated roleplaying servers. Rolling a new character on one proved to be the best decision I had ever made. I made so many friends (many of whom I’m still friends with to this day). I got into blogging for the first time. I told so many stories over the course of so many years with so many different people.
WoW was the game that made me love MMORPGs and reminded me why I loved roleplaying and telling stories. I don’t play it anymore for a variety of reasons, but I’ll forever be grateful to it for the fun I had and the friends I made while playing there.
The Secret World/Secret World Legends
The game that started me streaming.
Believe it or not, Tumblr was actually the social media platform that sold me on this game back when it was still The Secret World.
See, early in the days of Tumblr, it was cool to create presentation slides about things and why those things were awesome. And during one particular Steam Halloween sale back in 2015 or so, I just so happened to be following someone who reblogged one such presentation post regarding The Secret World.
Said presentation talked about the representation, how the core of the game was that “everything was true,” and that you could essentially build yourself a class and play what you wanted. It talked about the community of players and just how awesome that community was. And I remember staring at that screen, cursing myself for being tempted by how cool this post made it sound.
I wound up buying it and then proceeded to immediately get sucked into it after going through the entirety of the tutorial and winding up in a small New England town dealing with their own zombie apocalypse.
Let me tell you all something. You do not know true terror until you find yourself on a street that easily could have been in your hometown while being chased by zombies all the way to the nearest police station. I was hooked from that point on.
This was the game that introduced me to the group of people on Tumblr that would eventually form the Apiary. It was through the Apiary that I started streaming as a Tumblr friend volunteered to teach some of us newer players the ropes in dungeons and I thought maybe other people would want to learn, too. After I got the okay from my group, I started streaming our excursions. The entirety of the Tumblr TSW community (and anybody else who wanted to watch) got to watch our successes and failures, and be exposed to some of the most ridiculous things I think have ever been said on my stream.
It’s because of The Secret World that I’ve been streaming at all, and while I might not stream this one anymore, it will always have an incredibly special place in my heart.
What about all of you? What are some games that have made you the person you are today?