We pursue what we love, guys, and according to a 2018 Global Games Market report by Newzoo, the video game industry generates $137.9 billion per year. That’s a staggering number that tells us quite a few things, but in essence, it tells us that people love video games. So much so that we’re willing to spend enormous amounts of money (and time) on this amazing love.
What is it about games that makes us love them so much? There are loads of reasons, and every single person that games is an amazing tapestry of personal experience and difference in reasons for their passion. The focus I’m going to be looking at today is this: What are the pivotal moments in our gaming history that made us, and kept us, gamers for life? I’ve handpicked six of my own. Feel free to leave comments so we can know what turned you into a gamer’s gamer :)
Kid Icarus / Metroid
This was around the time I was three or four. I don’t remember much from this time, but I do clearly remember sitting in my babysitter’s basement with her brothers and watching them play these games. I was entranced! The colors, the music and sounds, the agony when I saw their characters die. I freaking loved every second of it. I also remember their patience with me when they would let me play. I remember wrapping my chubby, uncoordinated little kid paws around that NES controller and going to town, fully expecting myself to fly through the levels and destroy everything like I had seen them do. I must have died so many times, but those dudes were so patient with me and helped me along, trying to teach me the buttons. They never made fun of me or made me feel dumb. So even though it was difficult, I feel like these games, and my older friends, helped nurture this seedling of gamership. They basically helped me be patient. Little Logan just had to learn to git gud.
Super Mario World
This is a big one. I’ll never forget sitting outside Best Buy when I was seven with my brother and sister. We were waiting in the van for my dad to get done inside and my mom had this kinda secret little smile on her face. He gets back into the van and things are pretty quiet on the ride home. When we get there he pulls out of his Best Buy bag a box with a big picture of a Super Nintendo on it. Needless to say, after I shit my pants we got started right away on the game that came with it. Super Mario World! This game was colorful and amazing and fun and my GOD did it ever teach me patience. For a while every Koopa Troopa was a challenge. Every hole was a gaping maw that was ready to crush my little ego into oblivion before my little kid stubborness made me rise up and try again. Every boss was this heart pounding, sweaty-palm inducing nightmare that I had to overcome or die trying. Wow, come to think of it, I think I know why games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne are so incredibly fun for me.
TMNT: Turtles in Time
This little gem taught me the possibilities of co-op. I spent many an afternoon with my cousin slamming soda, blasting Billy Joel (of all things) and playing Battletoads. I remember gentle summer breezes drifting through the window as we bashed our way through hoardes of bad guys and calling out who we were going to attack and whether we should move on to the next screen or not, if we needed to do something inside or out of the game (bathroom breaks, candy runs etc). It was intense, and to this day every time I hear Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’ it gets me in the mood to fight.
Final Fantasy VII
The thing that resonated with me about this game the most was its story. I was introduced to this game around fourteen, and before it I hadn’t played anything too crazy. Just Super Nintendo games, really. But I mean, c’mon! Fighting to save the planet from a power hungry, greedy corporation and then fighting a guy with great silver hair! Love! Loss! SpoilersaheadandOMGwhenAerisdieditwastheworstthingthateverhappenedtomeinmyentirelife.
Dude, I had spent an entire game falling in love with this girl. I ALWAYS kept her in my party. I leveled the HELL out of her! I copied art of her out of the strategy guides!! I had the biggest legit crush on her and then SHE UP AND DIES and leaves me alone with no one to rebound to except Tifa!?!? This game truly TRULY introduced me to the idea that gaming was more than just a challeng. It could be art. It was writing. It was personal. It could be devastating in whole different ways. It was absolutely the most beautiful game I had ever played and I still love it and play it down to this day.
If Final Fantasy VII introduced me to the artistic scope of games, Halo introduced me to the next gen’s raw power of gaming back in 1999. For a bit of perspective: after FF VII I became a die hard Playstation 1 user, and mainly RPG’s. Beautiful games, to be sure, but nothing like what I was about to experience. I remember being at a party with my squad back in the day and everyone was playing this. On legendary.
And then they handed me the controller.
I cannot even begin to explain how thrilling this was. It was the second level “Halo” and I jumped in on one of the towers trying to defend the soldiers who had escaped the Pillar of Autumn while wave after wave of covenant assaulted our position. They acted like no enemies I had ever faced in gaming before. They just wouldn’t die. It seemed hopeless and made more so by the fact that the Elites would mock us as we fell in battle countless times. But little by little, with communication and practice, my friend and I slowly but surely started gaining ground, and before we knew it, we were in our warthog and heading to the tunnels. Oh boy. It was the tunnels that helped me understand the scope of what this next gen console could do in terms of raw power. I had never seen environments so huge before! I mean, it was underground and the developers could have literally just made them standard beautiful “tunnels” but they had to go above and beyond. The enormity of the level was amazing, and for a moment my spartan just stood there in the warthog oggling everything in my field of vision. And the light bridge, like my former babysitter, was very pretty too lol
Dead Space is an emotionally interesting one for me. I was about twenty six when I first played this bad boy. I had recently dealt with the death of someone close to me and my life was going through a period of ups and downs emotionally because of it. I was dealing with a ton of anxiety and just a touch of depression. I was browsing fun top 10 gaming lists on youtube at work one day and came across “Top 10 most disturbing scenes from video games”. One of them was the eye poker fail scenario from Dead Space 2. It was gruesome, to say the least, but I was intrigued. What kind of game would have this in it? It seemed to be a pretty popular game. What in god’s name was happening in that scene? Why did it have to happen? My curiosity finally got the better of me and I downloaded it to my Xbox 360. (It was on sale too at the time, if I’m remembering correctly. Thanks EA lol)
I was instantly hooked. I had played games like resident evil 2 and Parasite Eve before.
This game had me terrified. (Wear headphones while playing).
Every flicker of the lights had me on edge. Every scraping sound and pipe falling and echoing in the distance made my heart jump. It truly hit when I was in some maintenance bay. The lights completely died and all I could hear was the sound of Necromorphs breathing and grunting SOMEWHERE nearby through this maze of impromptu metal walls and thin catwalks. Never in my life had I been so scared while playing a game that I felt frozen in place. Never in my life had I not wanted to see what was behind the next corner for fear of what would happen. I literally had to hand hold my emotions and whisper to myself encouragement.
“C’mon man. Go. You got this,” and you know what? I did.
As scary as this game was at first, this game turned me into a damned lion. I battled through the fear and found that I had a lot more strength than I ever could have guessed, and the more I conquered the game the more confident I became, which made me play even better. I found that, even in my own life, I was a little more confident. The way I nurtured my courage and bravery in Dead Space became a habit that I eventually began taking with me as I walked through life.
Things got a little better.
Gaming is incredible. These games and the stories they tell live with us. They walk with us through life and can even have the power to reshape how we deal with things if we’re receptive to it. They can give us perspective and give us a little bit of a break from the wear and tear the world puts us all through. They can lift us up and encourage us and remind us that we have strength dwelling within that we might not see at times. I love gaming and I love the games that have been a part of my life.
What about you guys!? What moments in gaming made you gamers and why??
Shoutout to the gamers! Peace <3