Formative Games

Every so often, I wonder which games would I recommend in a couple of decades as the kinds of games that were important for either the medium or myself. As new games are released, old ones fade from memory and my own taste changes, I never think about the same games. There are some, however, that seem constant, and are also the oldest of the group.

The games that I consider form the core of who I am as a gamer are just a few. I’ve largely disassociated myself from Need for Speed, even if once upon a time I really enjoyed the series. Likewise, I am not as big of a fan of sports games as I was before, even if I would still enjoy an NBA game. I used to play them when I was younger, but they just didn’t stick. Age of Empires… well, while I have fond memories of playing it with my father on LAN, that’s a dead series.

And there are many more games I just never had a chance to call my own. I only ever owned one console, which I’m sure was a clone, and not many games for it. Most of my gaming was done on the computer, and it involves either educational games or, for the most part, Flight Simulators, Football games, Need for Speeds, Jet Moto, Age of Empires and the two odd ones, Doom and Quake. Final Fantasy only entered my vocabulary much later in life. I might have seen Goldeneye on a friend’s console. Same with Starfox. And I couldn’t play Zelda on the Znes emulator I had – I didn’t know English back then.

My father played Doom 2 sometimes, late at night, when he had the chance. So would my uncle. I’d watch if I could, and it led me to have some nightmares which delayed me playing them until later in life. Meanwhile, I watched a family friend play Quake 2’s demo that came with the ISP’s disk many times. Later in life, I got Quake 3 Arena and I enjoyed that fast-paced action, even if it was against bots. Then, I found a community that loved them and by then they are going around for the of life

Diablo 2 I played when I was young. Got it around Christmas. Never finished it, but I definitely remember being really invested in it. Up until I a few years ago, I would have considered it to be a formative game. Yet, the older I grow I realize that I don’t particularly enjoy action RPGs heavy on combat – I grow bored of them. The soundtrack to that game is great, yes, but perhaps I enjoyed the game more for its atmosphere than its gameplay.

Which leads me to the last pillar of my formative games. SimCity 4. This one came later in life, but it has cemented itself alongside them just as much. There is something about growing a city, slowly min-maxing the city, turning knobs until it is the best, most successful and within budget city possible. Once I was armed with some basic economy knowledge and real life experience with commuting in traffic that I began to unravel its systems and what I could learn from it. And, while I’ve graduated from Simcities (I never got into societies, and 5… well…) into Cities: Skylines, Democracy 3 and other games within the genre, it is one of the few games that I can say has helped me grow and understand the world around in me better.

These are my games – I’m sure I forget some. Perhaps I will make a list, at some point, of games that I played. But I always feel odd, though, when I hear what other people’s games of youth were, and all because I wasn’t in an English speaking country, and all I had was a PC.