6 minutes reading time (1100 words)
Gaming Firsts: A different perspective on influential gaming experiences
I’ve never thought about my gaming history in any systematic way, so this post is me thinking through my gaming firsts (well, mostly firsts).
Thinking about these reminds me of and gives me a different perspective on influential gaming experiences I haven’t thought of in a while. I hope that looking through these categories and thinking about your own firsts and other formative gaming experiences is fun, rewarding, and surprising for you, too!
- Year born (for the sake of context): 1980
- First PC: probably a Compaq Portable or Portable II?
- First video game(s) played (that I remember): something like the Coleco Mouse Trap game (but not that exact game, I think) that was on that early Compaq
- First arcade and video games played: Showbiz Pizza – Mario Bros, Dragon’s Lair, Donkey Kong, Joust
- First Video Game console: Atari 2600 (around 1985?)
- First text-based game: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. As a seven- or eight-year-old I could not grasp the concept that I couldn’t beat this game by holding the book open and just imitating whatever happened in that version.
- First strategy/ Role Playing Game (RPG): Starflight
- First graphic adventure game: King’s Quest III: To Heir Is Human
- First handheld video game console: Sega Game Gear
- First handheld game(s): Sonic the Hedgehog. Full disclosure: my sister had a Lion King game for this system which I did play.
- Video Game I’d play on the computer at my grandma’s house at holidays: Lemmings
- First video game I obsessively searched for: Rygar (NES, 1986). I think it was the open-world and permanent perks/new weapons aspects of this (added on to the more standard side-scrolling fighting) that made me so desperate to have this game after briefly playing it at someone’s house once. I know I had not played Metroid yet at this point (and may not have had played Zelda yet), so this mix of action and RPG conventions would have been pretty new to me.
- First game I recall binge playing after giving someone a false excuse for why I couldn't do some other activity elsewhere: The Legend of Zelda. I had borrowed it from someone and so wasn’t going to have it for that long. I think I told my parents I wasn’t feeling particularly well and so begged off a minor family outing.
- First cheat code: Konami code for Contra. I really liked that game and also Super C for their co-op capability.
- First game I left on for days to beat because there was no save system: Super Mario Brothers 3 (also mentioned in an earlier blog) for the Nintendo NES
- First 3D console game played: Battle Arena Toshinden. My friend brought his PS1 (Playstation 1) over as we awaited the season premiere of The Simpsons, which was the conclusion to the two-part episode “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” Looking this up on the web now, that puts this gaming session on 9/17/95, which means that the PS1 had only been out in the US for eight days.
- Games that got me back into console gaming after about five years of gaming mainly on PCs: Final Fantasy VII, Mario Kart 64, and Super Mario 64. These games, played on friends’ consoles, got me fiending for my own console again after having wholly skipped owning a console during the SNES generation. Also, FFVII was the first console game whose story sucked me in.
- First game that made me look at a location in the real world differently: Doom 2. The warehouse levels of this reminded me of the abandoned industrial warehouses you see coming into St. Louis from Illinois on I-55 and I started thinking of them as locations for events rather than just sights from the car window en route to someplace else.
- First game that I saw people get so obsessed over that it played a role in their flunking out of college: Goldeneye 007 for (Nintendo 64, N64)
- First game whose world became immersive for me: King’s Quest series of PC graphic adventures (see KQ3 above) – I had a book of some sort (probably a strategy guide) that talked about the fictional world, Daventry, and its relation to our world, and as a young kid I got so sucked in that I wished I could find a way to go there.
- First video game that significantly enriched my appreciation of an intellectual property from another medium: Star Wars: X-Wing – being able to pilot fighters around the Star Wars universe in a quality flight sim…holy craps, guys.
- Game that most impacted the development of my sense of humor: Sam and Max Hit the Road (“Max, where should I put this [bomb] so it doesn’t hurt anyone we know or care about?” “Out the window, Sam. There’s nothing but strangers out there.”)
- First video game where a character death hit me very hard: SPOILERS, OBVIOUSLY: FFVII. Also, the persistent death feature in Fire Emblem and knowing that my actions could get one or more protagonists killed in Heavy Rain deserve mention in this category.
- First video game soundtracks to clue me in to the fact that game music is a legit enterprise: Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness, FFVII and VIII
- First game whose ending I thought about off and on again for a long time: Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge
- First video game that shocked me with its violence: Mortal Kombat
- Video Games in which I decided I was not cut out for doing absolutely everything there is to do in all games: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I hit burnout about 60-70 hours in when I realized the sidequests were essentially never-ending – even just doing the main guild quests from that point on, my playthrough (with Shivering Isles expansion) lasted around 125 hours. I think that’s about my limit for a playthrough, folks, as my (first) Skyrim playthrough was a similar length (but without the heavy burnout).
- First game I backed on Kickstarter: Broken Age (it’s interesting watching this development saga continue to play out as a crowdfunding story)
- First game I looked forward to for years that I was completely satisfied with: Bioshock: Infinite
- First game that caused me to wake up with embarrassingly sore shoulders that I didn’t want to explain the true cause of to anyone: Wii Sports (tennis)
- First mobile game I got embarrassingly sucked into: Angry Birds
- First game that gave me the sense of vindication in assuming I would hate it and finding out I was right once I played it In the Name of Science, much like my experience with reading one Twilight novel: FarmVille