A lot of us have been playing games since we were little kids – or teenagers at least – and much like books, music, movies, and TV shows, games can leave a lasting impression on us. Impressions so important that they can really shape who you are and who you will be for the foreseeable future. Games can teach us important life lessons, how to react to certain situations (or how to react quickly in some games), and, at the most basic level, learning right from wrong. I’ve played a ton of games in my life and I’ve loved most of them, but there have been a select few that left a serious lasting impression on me, games that I poured hundreds of hours into and couldn’t pull myself away from for anything but a bathroom break. These are my top 5 games that shaped me into the (fairly) responsible adult that I am today.
5. Digimon World (PS1)
When I was really young, a movie rental store (remember those?) in my town rented out PS1 games. It wasn’t a popular place, but we couldn’t really afford to buy new movies all the time, so we went there a lot. I rented out their copy of Digimon World 2 every single time we went there, and I loved it, I couldn’t get enough of it. When the place closed down, I ended up finding the game at Electronics Boutique, but not only that, I found the first one right next to it, and of course had to buy it.
When I finally played Digimon World, I was a little put off because I had thought it would be a turned-based RPG like Digimon World 2 had been, but it wasn’t. Regardless, I kept playing. Playing it really made me care about my Digimon companion; you really have to keep an eye on him no matter how powerful he gets. Even the almighty Metalgreymon has to eat sometimes, he’s got to get his sleep everyday, and he’s even got to take a dump every now and then, and you have got to take care of him! Playing this game really teaches you some responsibility, and that everyone, friends, pets, everyone you know has to be taken care of sometimes.
Just don’t go throwing firecrackers at your dog trying to teach him how to use Magma Bomb.
4. Animal Crossing (GCN)
Anyone that had a Nintendo Gamecube back in the day probably had Animal Crossing, Super Mario Sunshine, and Luigi’s Mansion since they were three of the biggest games for the console. Animal Crossing came to me a little late in the console’s life, but it was truly a good usage of the “better late than never” philosophy. I must’ve stayed up until 3 AM the first night I had it, seeing how things changed at night in the game. I explored the town, dug up fossils, and just kept wandering around.
I had to play at least once a day to check on my town, see how everyone was doing, look for new stuff to dig up and buy or pay off my house. It was along the lines of the whole responsibilities thing, but also added in a social aspect of seeing how all my neighbors were each day and whatnot. I only played for a few years and the food has probably run out in my town and everyone has probably eaten each other, but for the short time I was playing it, I learned how to deal with different personalities and needs. Sure, they were animals, but I treated them like real people, and I think I learned a few things playing!
3. Kingdom Hearts (Series)
Kingdom Hearts is one of my favorite series of all time and I’ve played every installment in the series minus the PS2 version of Chain of Memories. Every character in every game, I loved, though some of the levels like Wonderland and Antlantica I could have done without. In fact, I kind of wanted to unplug the PS2 and fling it out my window at those levels. The rest of the series, however, I adored. The story is absolutely amazing, the original non-Disney characters are all memorable, and I could go back and play just about any of the games at any time.
If these games taught me anything, it’s that friends are everything, and you’ve got to have good friends to get through the tough times in life. Now, that doesn’t count when your friend’s evil doppleganger removes your heart, and turns you into a little black squirmy creature, you have got to get through the tough times too! Keep your friends close, and make sure that they don’t go crazy and nearly kill you.
2. Mega Man X (Series)
Mega Man X has always been my preferred Mega Man series, it’s more ‘actiony’, X is more maneuverable than Mega Man, and Sigma is a better villain than Wily. It’s just a better series in general in my opinion. Now, I’m not going to try and say that X taught me to stand up for what’s right, to fight the forces of evil, or to never become an evil maverick hell-bent on destroying all mankind. If these games taught me any kind of physical skill, it was reflexes and hand-eye coordination, because these games are fast paced, bosses can be ridiculously hard, and even with full E-tanks, you got to be skilled.
The classic spike traps are still around in every game, even basic enemies can be a hassle to navigate around, but always in a fair way. That’s the thing about the X games that I’ve always loved, you can run, dash, and jump pretty quickly through levels, and you’re always given just enough time to react to anything thrown at you. Different armors allow for different play styles in each game, such as the Blade armor in X6 allowing you to walk on spikes, stick to walls, and hang from the ceiling. Pick up any X game, especially any of the PS1 games, and test your reflexes, or how long you can go without snapping the controller in half fighting Sigma.
1. Mass Effect (Series)
Mass Effect was one of the greatest series of the last generation. Commander Shepard was one of the most memorable voices in any game ever, I still quote him constantly (usually as a joke, but still). If there was ever a game that taught me that every choice I make has a consequence, it was within this trilogy.
You can get your friends killed or saved, help innocent people or leave them to die, and punch reporters in the face! Of course, the ending of the trilogy wasn’t really affected by everything you did throughout the series, but how much fun you had up to that point relies on your choices. It may seem cool to make all the Renegade choices, but the series is so much better with Wrex in it, the real Rachni, and you have got to make Paragon choices to keep everyone alive and well. For the most part, at least, some choices like punching the reporter are just too damn good to pass up, but don’t do that in real life unless you want to be a YouTube sensation for 5 minutes and be in jail for 5 years.
I would say I turned out alright after playing all these games. I haven’t punched any reporters, I don’t buy my houses from raccoon, try to save the world with a lightsaber or arm cannon, or anything like that. I’ve learned how to make good decisions, developed some pretty good hand-eye coordination, and I’m pretty good at making friends with strangers (which helps in college). Have you ever played a game that left a mark on your life so big that you actually developed part of your personality around it? Gamers can be an odd bunch, but we’re all different in our own way, and we are who we are whether we’ve got our controller in hand, we’re in school, at work, raising a family, or anywhere else, cheers!
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”