While completing my answer sheet for the Great Blog Crawl 2020, one of the questions was on a post published a few months ago, on a great blog I only recently started following, McKenna Talks About Games.
The post in question was the 5 Most Impactful Games In My Life and McKenna credits Meghan Plays Games as her inspiration. Honestly, I’m not sure where the true origin lies, but it may be a Twitter hashtag.
Without further ado then, in reverse order!
5. Alex the Kidd In Miracle World
The Master System II wasn’t the first console we had during our childhood, it wasn’t the last either. We’d seen the Atari 2600 at some point, with the usual games, but it was the Master System II and the built in game, Alex the Kidd In Miracle World, which stands out to me.
As I write this, the Rock Paper Scissors battles just sprang back into my mind. Damn, that was some nostalgia!
I watched my Uncle play this game, I played it myself, my younger siblings also dabbled in it too. I don’t think I ever saw the end of the game, but we definitely played this quite a bit. We didn’t own too many games on the system, the only other game I remember now is Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but I was never a huge fan.
This was when I started to really take notice of video games.
Consoles fell out of favour for me, PC was where it was at by the mid-nineties. Other games at the time were obviously a big hit, stuff like Quake, Doom and the usual. For me, a huge portion of my time was invested in Team 17’s Worms series. Worms United, Worms 2, Worms: Armageddon and Worms World Party specifically.
My passion for the Worms series was strong enough during that 2D golden era, I ran a blog for a time, called the Worms Think Tank. When I search for that now, I can’t even find it on the Way Back Machine, but it does turn up here, against community member worMatty.
I don’t even feature myself on that site, but I went by the name Concrete Cowboy, something I stole from an episode of the Rugrats once haha. If you look closely during my streams today, you might notice some of my current profile names contain Ccowboy or something like that. Now you know why 🤣
Matt looked after the site for me towards the end of its existence, as I was going through a rough time with mental health. Eventually, I left the community and the site behind, I did improve my mental health situation though, not because of the games I must add.
Worms was ultimately responsible for me even knowing about HTML, CSS and blogging.
3. Grand Theft Auto
My mother and I argued a little about this game, as I was 15 at the time this released. Although my parents had recently separated at the time, my mother tells me she instructed my father not to allow me to play the game. It was an 18 rated game.
That obviously didn’t work, because I acquired it somehow, my father probably even purchased it for me! 😆
What a time to be alive. I still remember setting fire to anything that moved, running over pedestrians, jumping bridges, blowing up remote control cars. I remember acquiring a 4MB Voodoo 3DFX card and enabling the option in GTA for the first time. Absolutely incredible! My poor, tiny, fragile little mind.
It makes this list mostly for the series as a whole though, rather than the first game alone. I’ve played many of them, but there’s a lot of gaps in my experience too. GTA V and GTA Online, however, well they’re thoroughly covered.
Around the time of my wedding, I was heavily involved in GTA Online, it was definitely a crutch I was leaning on, but it did the trick. Sleepless nights were filled with deliveries of substances, riding bikes up the side of mountains, stealing jets from the army base, cruising around the highways on motorbikes. Mostly with total strangers in a group I found myself in.
There’s nothing quite like it. For a long time, it will probably remain the game I’ve sunk the most time into, around 1800 hours at the time of writing.
2. Left 4 Dead
Here is a game which I’d been keeping tabs on for a short while before it released, hyping up my friends. The demo Valve made available was approximately 2 of the 5 levels which made up the full No Mercy campaign.
This didn’t stop my little group from playing the demo for several hours, we couldn’t get enough. When the full game launched, we devoured it, nothing else mattered.
Around this time, I went through a pretty heavy break up after 5.5 years with someone. We were living in the same house, which we’d mortgaged together. Honestly, it was like hell. In the several months I stayed in the house, in the tiny bedroom I once used as a teenager, I had no idea what to do with my life.
While I figured that out, I would play Left 4 Dead as much as possible. This routinely meant starting around midnight, after finishing a shift at 11.30pm, or starting much earlier in the evening when not working, but always going to 4am or longer.
Staying up late and chatting with strangers on the internet, smoking way too many cigarettes, perched on the edge of a double bed my sister had donated to me, ready for my impending move. It was a simple time, a few hundred hours of Left 4 Dead under my belt, I cut my losses and moved out with my name still on the mortgage, I couldn’t handle the situation any more.
A series of events began after this which led me to meet my wife for the first time.
That zombie game, the definitive zombie game in my eyes, saved me in the real world.
This was the point in my illustrious gaming career when I realised the story was more important to me than anything else. My love for FPS games was suddenly presenting me with this vehicle for telling an amazing story.
I lapped it up, the set pieces, the dialogue… Opposing Force and Blue Shift expansions too, over and over again. Using the command console to play short segments of the game I enjoyed, again and again. Using mods. Drinking it all in, so amazing.
Half-Life 2 came along and further transformed storytelling and even physics in an FPS, then episodes 1 & 2, it was all thoroughly brilliant. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about to become a serious story nerd.
This would eventually lead me on to entirely different experiences, away from my comfort zone on the PC, back to consoles and on to third-person action games such as The Last of Us, RPGs, walking simulators and so much more, all in pursuit of an interesting story.
Today, I value the narrative, characters, lore, worldbuilding and storytelling above all else. The shiniest graphics can’t save you from a bad story.
So there you have it, the five most impactful video games in my life today. Many others would make the list if it carried on from there, but these are the most important to me!
What would your five most impactful games be? Sound off in the comments or write your own post, if you missed this the first time it did the rounds like I did 😁