I wrote a while back about how Dark Souls made me a better student. Thinking about that and knowing that tomorrow (as I’m writing this) will be Thanksgiving, I decided to do something of a listicle detailing other games that have made a positive impact on my life. So please, enjoy this little bit of year end positivity and feel free to share your own stories in the comments.
This came out when I was in middle school, and at the time I had only met my mother twice in my life. As fate would have it however, I was living with my grandmother on her side, who thought it was important for me to have some semblance of a relationship with her. So every Saturday she would call me on the phone (you know, that thing phones did before the rise of texting) and we’d talk for at least an hour. One of the things the two of us found we had in common was a fondness for cartoons, specifically the then still child-friendly Toonami showings. At the time Toonami ran game reviews every now and again. One of those was for The Sands of Time and I was instantly hooked on it. What really made this game stick with me over the years however, is just how in tune it made me feel with my mother. The Saturday after seeing the review (or, lets be honest, glorified trailer) my mom said it looked cool and, with out any form of prompting, asked me if I’d like a copy as a gift. Even if the game had been total crap, the instant connection I felt over how much I had in common with the mother I’d never gotten to know was enough to keep the game in my good graces.
This was the first game I ever played. I moved around a lot as a kid for reasons I wouldn’t know until much later in life, and as such making and keeping friends wasn’t something I was good at. Add to that a home life that i’ve only recently feel like i’ve been able to recover from, and its not hard to see how I was maybe a little more isolated than I should have been in my formative years. Well, in one of the houses me and my father moved into the previous owners left behind a Playstation 1 and the first disk of Metal Gear Solid. The disk was scratched to hell, so I didn’t make it every far in those early days, but I was completely engrossed with the parts I could play. It also didn’t hurt that it was pretty much the perfect game for me at the time: Solid Snake was pretty much everything young me thought of as cool meaning he was also my complete opposite, making him the perfect avatar for my much needed escapism. So when ever home became unbearable I could beat the shit out of a bad guy and was rewarded for doing it, plus this was a “friend” I could take with me. While this wasn’t “the” game that made me an avid gamer, it was the beginning.
As far as I can recall, i’ve lived with 8 distinct family set ups. Most of those were christens. Most of those were the crazy kinds of christens. My first stepmother was not an exception to that rule. See, me and her two sons, in our time together, had met an older guy in our neighborhood and had formed something of a friendship by playing a streamlined version of Dungeons and Dragons. Stepmom#1 did not like that. Even though our game was streamlined to the point of being near unrecognizable to real fans, to her it was the same “satanic” game alarmist news had warned her about. I didn’t take that kindly and ended up get myself grounded for my…less than tactful attempts to persuade her to let us keep playing. While I couldn’t go out and play, I was still allowed to play video games. And the one I played the most, the one I got hooked on was one of my stepbrothers copies of Pokemon Stadium for the Nintendo 64. I sucked at it, but everyday after school I went back to it hoping that would be the day I’d power on through it. By the time my two week prison sentence was up, I really didn’t want to do much else but keep playing.
So those are three games I’m thankful for: the one that started it all, the one that cemented my love for gaming and the one the made me feel like I really had a family. There are so many more I could talk about, but I’m going to end there for this year. If you’re reading this I hope you’re having a happy thanksgiving, and I hope to see you again soon.