When you think about it, life is just a series of accidents. Our interests are shaped by whatever was around us at the time and our personalities moulded themselves around that which we find entertaining. You might have picked up a Stephen King novel in a library on one lonely Monday morning as a kid when you were looking for something to do and now you’re a life-long fan of horror. Maybe you were sitting around in your pyjamas looking at whatever was on the movie channel and you stumbled upon and found yourself embroiled in a Star Wars marathon and now you own a figure of Darth Vader and have a Star Wars poster on your wall while you’re secretly hoping the next movie will be able to capture that magic again.
We’re all just stumbling through life and with gaming, it’s no exception. What you discover during your formative years as a gamer will more than likely shape who you become. Which genres you like, what platform you primarily play on and what you consider to be a good time. Each of our individual stories are different, but I’m asking about one game that you may have accidentally stumbled upon somewhere that managed to change the entire trajectory of your gaming life.
For me, it was for sure Final Fantasy VIII. I was probably around 11 years old and I just got a shiny new PS1, the one with the little LCD screen attached. Obviously, I did not have any games and I also had no clue what was good because this was in the 2000s and the internet was but a twinkle in our eyes. I somehow ended up in a secondhand store and was perusing the games they had on offer. Inside a display cabinet, I saw this gigantic square game case that had two people on the front hugging that simply said “Final Fantasy VIII” and “Squaresoft”. I flipped it around and saw a man wielding a sword with a huge scar across his face and a blurb promising “An epic story of love, hate, war and peace set in a massive new world”.
I then opened the case and found 4 discs sitting there and I knew I had to have it. I was a kid in the 2000s, the more entertainment the better. What then transpired was a huge renaissance in my gaming existence. I was playing this strange looking Japanese game in a series that apparently had 8 whole entries so far and my tiny brain was just constantly blown away. The characters, the story, the involved combat and the pure exploration of this massive new world, just like the back of the box promised me. It was a magical awakening.
Because of this one game, I started loving RPGs and JRPGs. I sought out similar experiences and eventually became an RPG nut that would spend hundreds of hours on singular games and living myself in this fantasy. All this came from one boring day walking around the shops and trying to find cheap games for my new console. Essentially the gaming version of the butterfly effect.
I then thought about all the other genres I love and most of them have similar genesis points. One lone game that randomly popped into my life that changed the entire course of what I enjoy in gaming. Some randomly found a platforming game and now they’re Nintendo fanboys. Some played Age of Empires 2 and started loving RTS games and then, in turn, became PC gamers for life. It all has a genesis and it always starts with that initial discovery.
Which one game did you randomly find that changed the entire course of your gaming life?