How Gaming Changed My Life, By Thumb Culture

We gamers have the greatest hobby. An activity that can take you to places far beyond real life, to experience things that, while we’re stuck in an office or school, we know we will never be able to practice. Be it from carefully planning world domination with political decisions in Civilisation 5, feeling the struggles and self-sacrifice of a helpless father in Heavy Rain, or single-handedly wiping out a legion of your enemies during intergalactic war by way of the Master Chief, we gamers never have to dream, for it is crafted so realistically before our eyes.

Little wonder then, that this same past-time that helps us escape the ‘real world’ of bills, annoying partners and infuriating bosses, also takes an effect on our lives as a whole. So I put it to the team, what was the game you played, the story you experienced, that you remember so fondly, that changed your perspective, or even, changed your life?

Pazbi

It’s definitely a difficult choice to decide what the most influential game of your life has been thus far. I grew up with a few consoles, SNES or the Commodore 64, and few come to mind but the one that did it for me was Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos. Which was also the first PC game that I had owned. I was around eleven or twelve at the time of its release and had recently been given my first PC. I remembered how engrossed I had been playing the other Blizzard titles, Warcraft 2 and Diablo 2, and couldn’t wait to play the latest installment.

Now the game had a brilliantly written story and at the time had amazing graphics. It was a great RTS game and with the online community it continued to add more and more to the game. What captured my interest instantly though and I assume other fans of Blizzard, was the cinematics. Straight off from the first scene I was amazed. After I finished the game for the first time, I felt it was these masterfully rendered cutscenes that rekindled my interest in animation. It is the defining reason I got into design at school, so that I could learn to create something that hopefully, was just as awesome.

Several more choices down the line, I’ve almost finished my Games Development Course. So thinking back it’s doubtable that I would have decided to go down this path had I not played that game all those years ago. Who knows, without Warcraft 3 I might have ended up being a very miserable Real Estate agent.

Ross

Without question, ‘The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’. I know it’s kind of a tired choice but there is absolutely no game that even comes close for me. 1998 was a big year for me in general, I was just starting secondary school and feeling very nervous about the whole thing. My uniform was far too big for me and my hair was still parted like I was in a boyband or some shit. Low and behold, it worked out that my first day at school introduced me to people I never thought I’d meet – people like me. Talking games is something I could do in my sleep, and when myself and the kids I went to school with discovered we all had an N64, it was a big moment. Sleepovers were arranged to play countless hours of ‘Goldeneye’ and ‘Mario Kart 64′ with our four controllers, huddled around a minuscule screen shooting each others with Klobbs and Red Shells, legendary moments we still to this day do our best to partake in. That Christmas, after reading countless words about this new 3D ‘Zelda’ game, my ever dependable Dad got the damn game for me, and on Christmas day in 1998, I was about to visit Hyrule for the very first time.

I can’t pinpoint an exact moment in ‘Ocarina’ that made my jaw drop, as there are so many. Perhaps the most incredible moment for me was when you reach Hyrule Field for the first time. I mean, OH. MY. GOD. Vast, endless grass lies ahead of you, you can run absolutely any direction you like and still find yourself running into something new. Day turning into night, the skeletons appearing from under the ground, coming at you in a distinct zombie like walk, freaking me the hell out only for them to disappear again when the sun rose. It’s that music…I mean, oh *cries a little thinking about it*..the ‘sunrise’ music, introducing you to Hyrule Field is the most outstanding piece of composition I may have possibly ever heard in a game, and ‘Ocarina’ is full of them. Every song you learn to play on the Ocarina is instantly memorable, give me a title and I’ll whistle the whole damn thing to you. You see, I just can’t choose the greatest moment, as ‘Ocarina of Time’ was the pinnacle. The reason the term ‘Greatest Moment’ even bloody exists. For me, in my life, it created greatness right in front of me. I’d never seen anything like it before, and to this day I haven’t seen anything that matches it. Oh sure, games have gotten far more complex, visually the game looks very dated now (unless you’re playing the perfect 3DS version) Hyrule Field is merely a spec on the sandbox games of today, but it’s my life. From the very first time I picked up my N64 controller and Link took me into the beautiful, wonderful, amazing, absolutely untouchable world of Hyrule and every single one of its inhabitants, I knew I would love this art form forever.

‘The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’ changed my life because it gave me a true reason to be proud and unashamed of my favourite hobby. I will live and die by the Master Sword, and nobody will ever tell me otherwise. For me and my friends and even my Dad, ‘Ocarina’ started our obsession with gaming.  I’m so proud to be a member of this awesome community of people, and it all started with a kid in green who lived in a treehouse.

Paul

Well, the one game that I can honestly say changed my perception of games was Street Fighter 2, more specifically Street Fighter 2 on the Super Nintendo. In the arcades SF2 litterally took the beat em up genre, gave it a spinning pile driver and turned it on its head, creating essentially a brand new genre. Using a whopping six button and various controller movements to pull of the unique moves of the fighters was a first. And for me gave birth to proper competitive multiplayer gaming. Not only that, but the graphics at the time where phenomenal with some of the finest 2D character sprites ever to grace an arcade cabinet. A legend was born.

But why you ask was the Super Nintendo version the game that changed everything?  Well, the simple reason being an almost perfect arcade conversion. Finally the arcades could come home and be played right on you telly. No more trips up town hanging around arcades, you could just invite your friends round for some Street Fighter 2 action and spend the day beating each other up (virtually of course). When I bought my SNES I was an avid user of the Atari ST, a great gaming computer, at the time my friends and I all had one, and we vowed never to buy a console. But when I saw SF2 on the SNES I said “I’m getting one of those and I’m going to selotape the game into the cartridge slot so I’ll have a Street Fighter 2 ‘arcade’ game at home”; those were my exact words. Oh how my friends laughed, and called me a Judas, calling me a ‘console gamer’ which was a pretty big insult back then. But as soon as they clapped eyes on SF2 beaming from my TV they just dropped their jaws, and all went out to buy one. In the years leading up to the age I could go out and drink, every friday night was Street fighter 2 night, with the aid of Ribena and crisps we held the best multiplayer tournaments in the world.

Tony

How gaming changed my life, hmmm this is a tough one. I’m not to sure on how to answer but I’ll give it a shot. I was brought up with gaming. I remember at a very young age that I was playing a Commodore 64, so gaming has been there for me since I was born pretty much. The biggest impact I think it’s had on my life is that gaming is perfect for venting out – even to this day if I get a little angry or something I know I can turn on my Xbox, play Call of Duty or Battlefield online, and within a game or two it’s all good again. When I was younger it was more prominent, I had some anger problems so I would gravitate to games like Grand Theft Auto.

Which leads to the second point, which game changed my perspective on gaming? And that would have to be Grand Theft Auto 3 on the PS2. Before this I only really knew gaming from playing the Megadrive, SNES and N64, and all I had was Sonic, Mario and a couple other games. In my opinion at that time console gaming was only aimed towards kids. Then Rockstar come out with the first 3D Grand Theft Auto which, at the time, blew my effin mind. Sure at that time we already had Driver 1& 2, but you were able to use Liberty City as your own sandbox and pretty much do whatever you wanted. Want a tank? Simply gain enough attention from the law and you can get one. Many hours were put into the game on my own and with friends doing all kinds of crazy things. Thanks to Grand Theft Auto my whole perspective of gaming changed and would eventually lead me to buying a Xbox 360 and expanding my library of games.

So to sum things up, yes gaming has changed my life, not by a whole lot, but enough so I don’t flip out every 10 seconds (not literally) and my perspection also changed. Other games that have changed my gaming perspective are Counter Strike 1.6 for exposing me to the online world of gaming, and Metal Gear Solid for being one of the first ‘serious’ games I played.

Aston

It would usually not be an easy choice, having to pick one game amongst the hundreds that have influenced our generation, or indeed my life, but mine would without a doubt have to be Final Fantasy VII. In one word, it was epic. In a few, it was a breathtakingly beautiful RPG that had grace and character, an intense storyline coupled with unique characters; you couldn’t help but become emotionally attached and addicted.

I played this game when it came out for the PC in 1998, and remember deliberately ‘faking illness’ so I could stay home to play it day in, day out (my parents caught on eventually unfortunately). From the opening scene to the last, from Aerith’s death to Sephiroth’s change, it was simply magnificent, it sparked my love for the RPG genre and for the Final Fantasy series, and it influenced a lot of the posters on my bedroom wall :D . I have to say, I definitely believe Final Fantasy VII is the game that made me the gamer I am today, and I don’t regret those missed school days for even a moment.

I don’t think there will ever be another RPG that will be able to hold a candle up to this game, it set the standards for RPGs with its engrossing storyline, beautifully orchestrated music, awesome characters – I mean, this is the game that gave us one of the best villians of all time, Sephiroth.

I could talk endlessly about this game, but I don’t need to, the fact is, it’s the best selling Final Fantasy, it has spawned three other games, and two movies, its popularity speaks for itself.

Final Fantasy VII set itself apart from any other RPGs, stole my heart and will remain my favourite and the most influential game in my life.

John

After first putting this question to the team I suddenly released how hard it can be to answer. But really, there’s only one game that changed my life, Gears of War. In the style of the amazing posts above, let me paint you a picture.

I was once not having as good a time in life as I am now. After college I was unemployed, awaiting all my friends to depart to university and leave me homebound, struggling to gain the motivation to get up in the morning. Until one day a friend of mine invited me to ride my bike over and try out his 360. Up until this point I was still a manic gamer, but with lack of funds and without experiencing it, the next generation of consoles were a far off thought, pushed out of my mind. I walked into his room only to find him slouched on a beanbag, staring blankly at the screen as his fingers flicked and twitched across the controller to beat a giant rat to death with a club – Oblivion, since you asked – so after much mocking of such a terrible first impression he offered me a controller and fired up a 2 player campaign of Gears of War, sceptically I accepted.

Needless to say, after a mixture of the most impressive graphics I had ever seen, hilarious Cole Train quotes and bloody, bloody gore I was hooked. Every day from then on I would fill my backpack with a packet of Minstrels and as much Budweiser as the change in my pocket could afford, and drove on the fumes of petrol left in my tank to complete the next Act at his house. Soon Hardcore difficulty was completed, and Insane was next on the list. Countless tense, infuriating, and joyful moments ensued from my esteemed company, and a showcase in what Microsoft’s new machine could do. We fought and died (a lot) until we finally reached the end boss, RAAM. Death after death after death we tried and failed to bring down the hard-as-nails Locust leader and his Insta-Death Krill. I was on the verge of leaving, defeated, when he said ‘one more time’. Sure enough, things weren’t going well, moments away from another disappointment I broke rank and sprinted for the railgun at the back of stage. Surrounded by darkness the Krill began to eat away at my life, and as the bloodied skull become a more vibrant crimson on my screen the railgun’s bullets continued to thud into RAAM’s chest as he slowly approached my teammate. In a final Rambo-esque ‘AHHHHHHH’ I let out a hate filled battle cry as my impending doom was a mere instant away. The screen went black. Catching my breath in stunned silence I saw the first fades of the end cut-scene come into view. From that day forward I had never felt admiration, relief and euphoria like it, as we jumped from our seats victorious.

Well, I was lucky enough to get myself a job before my friends departed off around the country and after my first pay check bought my friend’s Xbox from him for my own. That was the game that changed my life, without it I wouldn’t have known how gaming could induce such emotion, and passion, or known what technology was capable of as it advanced from one generation to another. Without it I wouldn’t have the love for gaming I have today.

Max

It’s tricky to describe how gaming’s changed my life. A change depends upon a prior state where I was unchanged. But if I try to remember the days before gaming I hit the point  in memory where it’s all vague texture and colour. For me, the presence of games has been as permanent as movies, books, TV shows, music and so on. They are as much a source of entertainment and inspiration to me as their older media brothers. So the attitude that they are a niche, hobbyist interest has always been strange to me. Hopefully it’s strange to most of my generation, who played the SNES as little’uns. We’re gaming’s most effortlessly adjusted audience, and it will only get better with those who follow – though they’ll likely not possess the same fondness for 16-bit graphics. Soon there won’t be a need to justify the worth of games, it will be self-evident.

So gaming can’t have changed my life, really. I’d be a cheeky git for dropping the mic and walking off there, of course. Gaming may not have changed me, but the games themselves have. Metal Gear Solid is special for being the first game that captivated me in the same manner as cinema. Until then, the most engrossing stories – the Final Fantasy types – presented the plot in chunks of prose between gameplay. But with MGS I was playing an animé styled action movie melodrama, which I enjoyed well over a dozen times. When I’d turn on my Playstation and hear the startup melody (which little Max always felt had an eerie tone), I was filled with as much joyful anticipation as pressing play on my most treasured VHS. My father, despite being utterly useless at stealth games, would sit beside me and watch. He did this not to monitor what I was consuming, but for the enjoyment of being an audience.

And that’s just one game. If I was to list all my special titles, I’d be retelling the story of my life. I bonded with primary school friends in Goldeneye deathmatches. Final Fantasy IX inspired me to be a writer. Part of why I’m with my girlfriend is down to, in no small part, LittleBigPlanet. And look at what I’m doing right this moment! I’m writing for a gaming site. So thank you gaming. Thank you for, well… everything.


So there you have it lovely readers. As you can see, we’re really passionate about our games of choice, so please, show some love in the comments below, tell us what you think, and what games changed your life, we really want to hear from you. Lots of love, TCTell your friends:

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