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My Most Important Video Games

Video games have such a profound influence on my life. I am only twenty-two years old, but gaming has had quite the presence in those years. Some of my earliest memories involve either watching my older brothers play video games or even sneaking on their consoles while they went out to play with their friends. Ever since I was young, I have spent probably twenty or so hours a week, at least, playing some type of video game. This type of consumption can drastically mold the way a person thinks and acts. I would like to use this article to properly describe the way specific games have impacted my life, for better or worse.

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Tony Hawk’s Series2

The whole Tony Hawk series kind of blew my mind, at the time. I grew up skateboarding. My brothers and all of our friends spent so much of our time just pushing around parks, or hanging out in our alleyway skating. The original Tony Hawk Pro Skater actually fueled that hobby for a while.

In a world full of grey Nintendo 64 cartridges, the first blue one that I saw really sticks into my mind. As a skateboarder, this game was spot on. I could never do any cool tricks, mostly because I was young and afraid; THPS was the gateway to those tricks that I never thought I could have. It was like playing a skate video. All of my favorite professional skateboarders were in that game. I spent months trying to get 100% completion on that title.

The rest of the series is actually really important to me also. I’ve played every addition to the series, besides that weird Wii one where you need to actually stand on a crappy plastic skateboard. I was too young to have a job for when most of the new Tony Hawk games would come out, but my older brother would always come in clutch. I remember he would come home with Tony Hawk Underground or Tony Hawk Project 8 and we would just take turns trying to complete missions for weeks straight. It was always an awesome time, and gave me some of the nicest memories of my life.

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Oddworld Munch’s Oddysee

This was the first video game that was mine. The original Xbox came out in 2001, when I was only 7 years old. That was one of the most memorable Christmas’ that I have ever had. My parents bought my older brothers and I the console, and we each got one game. My oldest brother got Project Gotham Racing. My other brother got Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2x. My parents bought me Oddworld Munch’s Oddysee.

To be honest, I was actually upset at first. I was too young to recognize that a gift is still a nice gesture, but this game was not what I wanted. It seemed to be a game that was too weird, and I had never heard of it before. The first hour of actually playing this game changed my previous mind state almost immediately. 

If you have never heard or played this game, I would definitely recommend it. Not just for nostalgic reasons, but this game is actually well made. For lack of a better way of describing it, it’s very odd. It was one of the first games I had known of that had multiple endings depending on how you played the game. This was huge for me. For the first time, I crammed a bunch of hours into completing a game two different times.

The developer, Oddworld Inhabitants, is responsible for my taste in many different art forms. Oddworld Munch’s Oddysee is the definition of atmospheric. The world that it is based in is beautifully designed and complimented by great audio work. In 2016, still, the things that resonate with me the most have the same ingredients. I could not be more grateful for the way this game shaped my mind.

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RuneScape

RuneScape was an extremely awkward title for me when I first found out about it. I was in fifth grade when I started playing this MMORPG. It was 2004 and everyone in my school seemed to be playing this game. The first time I had loaded it up was in my local library after school one day. Those computers would never filter out the website that we played RuneScape on, so it worked out perfectly. My friends spent multiple days trying to explain the systems to me because, at the time, they felt very complex.

Once I got the hang of RuneScape, it kind of took over my life. If I was not at the library playing, I was at my house or a friends house playing this game. The vast multiplayer aspects of RuneScape were the first that I had ever experienced. I could group up with my friends and kill Lesser Demons and would have just as much fun as if we were out riding bike around town. In my more cynical and cruel days, we would convince players to go out of the safe zones as we killed them and took all of their items. Karma would continuously pay me back, because I would fall for the same tricks. Kids will be kids, right?

These kind of horribly good experiences helped mold me into a productive person. Some of RuneScape’s systems helped with real life things that I was, and currently still am, dealing with. I used balancing my gold and time in-game to balance money and time in real life. Jagex Games’ really created something special for the time, and all of my elementary school friends and I really thank them for it.

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World of Warcraft

The natural progression from browser MMOs to more legit MMOs happened when I was in middle school. World of Warcraft was in it’s second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. This game kind of took over the world for a little bit. Everyone and their uncles were playing this game. I remember hearing stories of people getting addicted to it and never leaving their room. The media and parents in my neighborhood made it seem like this game would kill their children. So, naturally, I had to get my hands on it.

The barrier of entry for WoW put it in an elite category for kids my age. You had to buy the original game, as well as the two expansion packs, plus pay a monthly fee. Kids in middle school did not have that kind of money, and our parents would not pay for it because of the way the world looked at it. When I mustered up enough money to get myself into that universe, I got sucked into the black hole that everyone tried to avoid.

Blizzard built an in-game environment that will probably never be replicated. Things will be done better, I’m sure of it, but that initial feeling of stumbling around Azeroth will never be duplicated for me. I felt above kids my age because I could afford to be, but also below so many people due to their geared out characters.

This is a game that I still, to this day, log on and play. I’ve spent hundreds, probably thousands, of dollars playing this game, and I would do it all over again if I could. World of Warcraft is responsible for influencing so much of the video game industry. So many lessons of game development can be learned from the universe that was, and is still, being created by Blizzard. This was my generation’s version of Minecraft, in terms of scope and brilliance.

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Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

I spent a whole summer saving up money for an Xbox 360 the year that it came out. My first ever source of income was my two paper routes I had that year. When I got my hands on that console, none of the games I bought really stuck, until summer of 2007.

I forget how, but I managed to get into the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare beta. I had played COD3 at the time, so I knew about the series a little bit. Modern Warfare games were not really a big deal, we were still living in the era of WWII games. The first match I played in that beta was one of the most eye opening experiences of my life.

I knew that COD4 was going to mean something extremely important for video games, even though I was only thirteen years old. The way you could customize a load out, level up your character, and unlock new attachments for your gun was something I had never even thought possible. The hooks that were going to be in this game, I thought, were ones that would change the way games were developed.

Modern Warfare was one of the first titles that I stood in line with my friends for. I got to max level so fast in that game, only to find out what “Prestige Mode” meant. I could level up another nine times? I was so into this game. Four of my friends and I actually got quite good at this game. We had heard about Major League Gaming and decided to see what we could do on professional ladders.

The problem with competitive COD4 was, it was only 4 vs. 4. My group of friends that played was five people. Constant rifts in my friend group were being created due to having to substitute someone out. This kind of relationship handling practice is the kind that I will be eternally grateful for. You develop these skills one way or another, but this was how we did it.

Video games changed my life in so many ways. These are only some of the most important games in my life. Neither you or I have enough time for me to list off every important experience I have had in video games. I know I am not alone in this. Video games impact so many people’s lives, feel free to comment about how video games changed your life!