Tell Us Dammit: Defining Moments

Yesterday, at Game Masters, Warren Spector ran through some of the defining moments that shaped him as a gamer and as a designer. It got me wondering about my own defining moments, when I realised the potential of gaming. What are some of your favourite gaming memories?

I have a couple of recent ones. I remember bringing my Wii home for the first time, and watching everyone in my wife's house become entranced by Wii Sports. That was honestly a real defining moment for me. I knew then that the market for games had changed. Every single person, gamers and non-gamers alike, in that room ended up buying a Wii, regardless of whether its gathering dust now.

Even more recent for me was Journey, that game's ending in particular, despite what some thing, was an incredible moment for me. Jus the simple act of moving forward felt meaningful. Pretty incredible.

But what about you guys and girls? What are some of your defining moments when it comes to video games?


    Seeing the first colossus in Shadow of the colossus. Seeing how huge the beast was together with the soaring music as you fought it was amazing. The fight with the 13th colossus was just as memorable if not more so. Running alongside a flying creature and jumping onto its wings is an unrivalled gaming moment for me.

    The first time I rewound time in Prince of Persia: The sands of time. I had never experienced time shifting mechanics before and this really impressed me. The fact that the game had fantastic platforming and a good story made the experience even better. The fact that a game mechanic made sense with the context of the story was amazing as well.


        I had a similar experience with Shadow Of The Colossus. Im 22 now and first played this game when the hd collection came out. I've been playing games all my life and I expect that won't change
        BUt nothing has ever come close to this moment I am forever grateful for
        My big gaming defining moment was standing on that first colossus, being shaken around like a rag doll
        when something so amazing happened I'll have kids just so I can tell them this story. I let go my grip on the colossus' fur just as it reached the apex of a shake, I flew through the air 6 meters righting myself as I finally began to descend and landed on the crown of the beast, I drew back my sword and buried the blade in its head. I was speechless, dumbstruck by what I had just done, not through luck or fluke it was what I had wanted to do, what I felt the game would let me do or, rather what the game would not stop me from doing. So amazed by what I'd just experienced I didn't even notice as the colossus crushed me to death... It didn't matter.

    Walking out of the shitter at the start of Oblivion. Welcome to the next gen.

      For me it was the damn title screen and introductory sequence panning around the castle ...togther with patrick stewart's sonorous tones.

      For me it was the damn title screen and introductory sequence panning around the castle ...togther with patrick stewart's sonorous tones.

      That moment got me back into gaming after a couple of years of drifting away.

      In hindsight, that moment has cost me thousands of dollars in the last 5 years.

        Haha. I had the EXACT same experience. I basically missed the second half the PS2, but this pulled me back in!

    In vaguely chronological order.

    Playing James Pond on my family's terrible first computer that was less powerful than my (analog) watch.

    Spending the day in my Dad's office as a kid and playing Doom.

    Staying home sick as a seven year old and finally beating Mortal Kombat. The first time I felt proud of a gaming achievement.

    Being given a Nintendo 64 (shared with my brother) with Ocarina of Time for Christmas and sharing a save file with my brother. We used to pass the controller and play together. Not sure how we managed it but somehow things worked. Then we'd both get frustrated watching our sister play on her own save file and read every last thing every NPC said. She just didn't get that they never said anything important. So she would get frustrated at us for always skipping it.

    Playing Diablo and Diablo 2 with friends. Setting up those characters and stumbling into the Den of Evil as a completely uninformed group. We kept doing the same thing over and over again for years. With different characters, some tweaked with a character editor, some not.

    Transitioning from Diablo to Ragnarok Online and playing that from open beta all the way through to, well, I can't even remember how far that rabbit hole went. I would play on a friend's account when the game went pay-to-play. Levelling his characters as a human bot in order to secure a slot on his account for my Archer.

    More recently, getting S rankings on the X missions on Trauma Center: Under the Knife. One of my happiest achievements in gaming because I had to work so damned hard, learn to play the game with two styli and really commit to not throwing my DS across the room, just to get even close to being there.

    Finally. Journey. All of it. So damned marvellous.

    Some off the top of my head include:

    Going to the Big Day Out in Melbourne in 1997 and playing Super Mario 64 in a demo pavilion.

    Completeing Ghosts and Goblins at my local arcade with a group of onlookers watching on.

    Having to type programs and code into my Texas Instruments PC just to play a game. (a colon instead of a semi colon and the whole bloody thing didn't work) .

    Getting my first Game and Watch back in 1980 or 81. (Fire)

      Similar one for me would be going to the Ekka in 1999, all just to play one of the first Sega Dreamcasts in Oz - + free showbag :D

    Secret of Mana on the SNES, staying up late nights with my brother and goign around saving the world together.

    Also the Uncharted series especially the first one. The environment and the scenery was so nice that sometimes I just looked around not really doing anything and taking in the view.

    Been gaming for a long time, so I've got lots of fond memories.

    - Earliest gaming memory is of an Ultima game (II or III, I think) on an Apple II, and the buzzy sound it made riding a horse around. I was probably sitting on someone's lap.
    - As a little kid, the first time I worked out which key to press to jump in Captain Comic.
    - My friend swiping copies of Leisure Suit Larry and Wolfenstein3d from his (much older) brother and bringing them over.
    - Magic Carpet 2 multiplayer over a coax network - this game seriously needs to be remade.
    - Sneaking into the school computer lab to play 4 player Doom 2 at lunch. Nobody played with the mouse.
    - The big mind-fuck denouement scenes of both Final Fantasy VII (you're a clone of the baddie!) and Final Fantasy VIII (all your disparate party characters actually grew up in an orphangae together and have had their memories screwed up)
    - Building Quake maps - never followed through on any of them, but I was building a map on floating platforms in a big black box, and it had jump pads (using quake's "wind" trigger) to get from platform to platform. I could have invented the space map.
    - Having one of my Quake 3 maps in the top 10 at .:LvL (ktsdm3 - H2SO4)
    - Playing loads of Warcraft 3 Frozen Throne with my mates. Getting into the top 100 in 4v4 once.
    - WoW on launch weekend, and then again later running pick up groups through Karazhan back when it was hard.
    - Music Rhythm games before Activision burst the bubble.
    - Finding games I could enjoy with my now wife, like Pixeljunk Monsters.

    Have a couple of current ones.

    Seeing Gears of War for the first time.
    We're used to it now, but at the time it looked amazing and the cover-based gameplay simply had not been done before. It was a great way to show of the 'next generation' of games.

    Also seeing Skate in action, again it looked amazing, but the controls were a great example of using lateral thinking to capture the essence of skateboarding. If people can use such clever thinking to capture that feeling, imagine what else we could see in the future.

    And for a retro one, seeing Starwing on the SNES.
    Seeing 3D being rendered on my home console? Blew my freaking mind.

      Actually, Gears is one for me too.

      Not seeing it for the first time. Playing it. All night at a friend's house. The two of us, sitting in the same lounge, playing co-op. Me with my TV and Xbox, him with his.

      It became a tradition that was broken for Gears 3 :(

    Jumping from a building in the first Assassin's Creed was something special.

    Hearing the theme music to Monkey Island II for the first time.
    Hearing the theme music to LBA for th first time.
    Finding some of the obscure references in Deus Ex.
    Getting chopped by my friends Barbarian in Diablo II. A lot.
    Most of Borderlands (except the driving.. and the boss fights...)

    Being a fanatic Arcade gamer because I was too poor to own a console on my supermarket salary back
    in the day, and I would always go to my rich-parent friends places to play games on their consoles.
    Then seeing things like the PS2 and Dreamcast I realised I have been missing out.

    ..And probably the whole start of the PS3 versus xbox360 wars when they first came out.
    Never seen such awesome graphics come out of a box before :)

    Seeing a tabletop Space Invaders for the first time, I dont believe i'd seen any video games at all prior to that .
    Playing Zork on an Apple 2 in primary school.
    Getting a C64 in 1983 and playing Depthcharge non stop for months afterwards.
    Writing a 2 player RPG for the C64 with a mate back in about 1989 or so
    Watching someone playing a MUD over their shoulder in Uni in 1992. That was a wow moment for multiplayer for me.
    Downloading and playing shareware Wolfenstein & Doom in 1993, first person shooters and being able to get games digitally was a pretty exciting combination.

    Outrunning the screen in Sonic 2.
    Seeing Crash Bandicoot and Mario 64 for the first time.
    This sounds lame, but seeing Spider-man: The Movie game in K-Mart really showed me how big the gap was between PS1/N64 and Xbox/PS2
    Seeing all of the enemies that can be on the field in Kameo on the 360 showed how big the gap was again, as was the world of Oblivion after just buying a new 360.

    2001, GTA3. I completed the opening sequence only to be left standing on a pavement in the red light district of Liberty City.

    I watched the cars complete with drivers waiting at the lights. I saw rubbish litter the streets. I watched the seedy inhabitants go about their business. It started to rain.

    After maybe a few minutes of just watching the world go about it's business I dragged a guy out of the nearby car, flicked through the stations until I found a station I liked and drove off.

    There was a city waiting to be explored.

    Mine's similar to Mark's actually.

    Except it was the SNES and the Super Mario All-Stars bundle I saw everybody pick up, after playing Mario games at my place on a NES. I never actually owned All-Stars personally.

    The ending of Skyward Sword, all the revelations, and then the daunting fact that that particular journey was over. Incredible.

    Convincing Saren to kill himself in the first Mass Effect literally dropped my jaw. Was so unexpected and made me shat my dacks when it happened(not literally).
    Coming out of the sewers in Oblivion.
    And the whole of Alan Wake. From the Episodic structure, story and the dlc where you turn floating words in to objects with your torch. good shit

      Alan Wake is an experience like no other. Even just thinking of the story and journey you travel through the game, feels like some long lost dream. Also, the philosophical and psychological questions this game raises in its abstraction always keeps you thinking. Even American Nightmare leaves you with even more questions and another awesome twist. Can't wait for Alan Wake part 2.

        This theme from Alan Wake really encompasses the entire feeling/experience of the game, amazing song: (though your probably already a fan of this tune, anyways)

    Exploring Azeroth in World of Warcraft... I am a little ashamed to say now that I used to play WoW, but honestly screw it... I had a lot of damn fun playing it (never end game, I enjoyed WoW for the levelling and socialising if you can believe it)... But being a massive Warcraft fan from Warcaft 1 days, I absolutely loved exploring the lands and I knew and loved.

    Also, the day I quit playing WoW was the day I finally got around to chatting to that girl from the Gateworld Stargate forums... 6.5 years on and we're getting married in October! It's safe to say had I not spent my summer pissing away my time playing WoW I probably wouldn't be with her.

    I know graphics aren't everything, (hey I'm a graphics whore, i like the shiny things!), but one that comes to mind immediately is seeing Fight Night Round 3 for the first time. It was the first time I'd seen an Xbox360 in action, so the movement, detail, lighting, motion was all amazing. It was so smooth and fluid, it seemed like such a massive jump from the PS2.

    Another moment was the first ever time I played Quake multiplayer. It was honestly the first time I had ever played a fps with a mouse, so it had set in me from that day onward the habit of inverting my Y axis.

    In terms of a moment in an actual game'd be Final Fantasy 7. It was the first time I'd ever encountered a game with such a deep story. It really opened my eyes to how much of an amazing medium for storytelling games could be.

    -Turning on my Playstation for the first time to play Crash Bandicoot - I didn't really know that 3D computing existed.
    -Connected to that - my Playstation came with a demo disc, and the idea of free games was somewhat too-good-to-be-true.
    -Watching the guards flank me in the first Half-Life.
    -Playing Mario Galaxy in 3D and 720p, naughtily emulated on my friend's PC, running through the nVidia 3D goggles, projected onto a wall in his den.Mario 3D Land is good, but ...
    -Any time I cranked up Doom as a child.
    -Whacky Wheels during lunchtime at school, playing split-screen with my friend.
    -Resident Evil 2, when the library floor collapsed under me after I'd walked across it like three times before, with nothing whatsoever happening. Capcom, you bastards, you owe me for a pair of undies.

    No doubt there's so many, this gen though the only right answer for me is Nier ending b. the only time storytelling in a game has ever been on par with written literature RIP Cavia, there was no one quite like you and likely never will be again.

    The first time I played Doom on my dad's roomate's PC. It utterly blew my mind and probably the moment where I decided I wanted to get my hands on any and all video games I could.

    The Dig will always be a standout memory. Beautiful art, a haunting atmosphere, well developed characters and a pretty cool story. It was a very "complete" experience for me. Maybe it's dated now so it's hard to recommend to people, but I still love it dearly.

    You know how before you played the original Grand Theft Auto it sounded too awesome to be true, all the cool stuff your friends were describing? Then you played it and you were like: this is pretty cool, but I pictured something different.

    Then when I was playing TIE Fighter and I completed some secret objectives and got introduced to the Secret Order of the Emperor. Oh man. It was like there was a whole secret world hidden away inside a game that was already awesome.

    These are the moments I look for. Something that throws me into the action and waits for me to float, something that has it's own distinct look and style and feel (even if it's not the prettiest thing out there), something that can make me really believe in the stuff I'm doing instead of just pushing buttons, and something that can build up my expectations then completely shake them up and make me ask: "What else have you got? What are you hiding?". Hell, I even ask those questions in real life.

    When I quantify my defining moments and what I desire from gaming, it reinforces my love for a game like Mass Effect, which I think, in view of all of the above, is my definitive game of this generation of consoles, if not of all games to date.

    It might sound silly but my experiences with gaming have shaped me as a person, for better or for worse. I'm not saying enough Call of Duty will make me a soldier or a killer, but I think they've made me inquisitive, changed the way I look at problems and seek solutions. I think it's made me care about people. Maybe they've made me impatient and selfish because I'm looking for gratification, a payoff, positive reinforcement. Maybe I am too disdainful of people I perceive as unwilling to search for alternative solutions when they hit an obstacle. Maybe I'm more likely to help them find a solution. Can't say for sure.

    What I do think is that my defining video game moments don't just define my experience with video games. They define me.

    Chucking a demo disc into my PS2, and choosing one of the games, then proceeding to giggle like a maniac as I slammed cars into walls and traffic whilst avoiding having the same done to me.
    That was the day I fell in love with Burnout 3: Takedown.

    Defining moments, or favourite moments? They're not necessarily the same thing.

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