The video games that define me

We all have at least one video game which defines us. It’s understandable that this could be the first we ever played although this isn’t always the case. Other releases might also make our lists thanks to their narrative, protagonists, or just because they’re a whole lot of fun.

After being tagged in a tweet from Alex Sigsworth at the beginning of April, this was a subject I ended up thinking about for a few weeks before hitting the keys on my laptop. Which four titles would make my defining list and why? Some I knew immediately, while others I had to think harder about to make sure I picked those that felt as though they’d had a lasting impact on me as a gamer. Join me as we take a brief journey through my gaming history and look at the releases which define me.

1990: The Secret of Monkey Island

The fact this game has appeared in today’s post will come as no surprise at all to regular readers. It wasn’t the first I ever played, because my family had a Commodore 64 and NES before I was given my Amiga 500 by my parents for Christmas, but it’s one that’s had the most lasting effect on my gaming habits. You can read the full story here if you’re interested. Suffice to say, The Secret of Monkey Island was what kickstarted my love for video games and made me an adventure fan for the thirty years following.

I might play other types of releases nowadays but it’s point-and-clicks that I regularly return to. I’ve always adored stories and there’s just something about the way the narrative is so inextricably linked with the gameplay in these titles that makes me adore them as much as I do. Although some may feel that the adventure genre is a relic of the past and the only thing keeping it alive now is nostalgia, for me it’s still evolving and adding new elements – just look at Unavowed, Stories Untold or The Red Strings Club as great examples from recent years.

2004: Fable

If the entry above made me fall in love with video games initially, Fable was the one which reminded me of that after being made to feel as though gaming wasn’t a suitable hobby for a young woman for several years. It’s thanks to a friend turning up at my apartment with an Xbox and a copy of the game that I finally realised I didn’t care what anybody else thought about what I did. After turning on the power and getting lost in the world of Albion for a few hours, I had the revelation that this was what I’d been missing out on.

The thing that fascinated me most about Fable was the sense of character development as it was the first time I’d seen anything with such an important alignment mechanic. I spent the entire game trying to make my Hero as good as possible and that’s still something I do today; the paragon route is always more appealing and I find being an evil protagonist difficult. It’s Fable II which is my favourite in the series as it took what I adored about the first game and made it even better, and this is something I hope happens again with Fable IV.

2011: To The Moon

I was pretty late to the independent scene and To The Moon was one of the first indie releases I ever played. It hit me hard. The gameplay might be limited and not to everybody’s taste, but that story: I really did cry at the end. It made me see that video games don’t have to be about action and explosions, or puzzle-solving and humour in the case of point-and-clicks. Narratives can be more than just simple tales about saving princesses and they have the power to make you feel some pretty strong emotions.

Since then I’ve preferred indie games because their developers have the freedom and creativity to experiment, and they give me the kind of unique stories I want to experience. I’ve played very few big-budget releases since beginning to blog in 2013 and don’t see that changing right now. The third instalment in the To The Moon series is due to be released at some point this year and you can expect a marathon stream of all the titles when that time comes – along with a few tears on Twitch.

2019: Eastshade

Eastshade is the latest release to earn its place on my list of favourite games. I fell in love with it very quickly because it’s such a lovely take on the RPG genre: imagine playing something like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim but where the pressure of any kind of combat is removed, so the exploration and conversation elements are enhanced as a result. It’s a simple and beautiful concept that managed to have a huge impact on me and I was genuinely upset to leave the title when the end credits rolled.

I want more games like this. Ones which take an established genre and then provide something new and unexpected; give you something you didn’t realise you were missing; and offer players a space to relax and clear their mind. Eastshade is possibly the most calming gaming experience I’ve ever had and one I won’t forget. The developer has said they have no plans to make a sequel which is a little sad but if this is what they can do with the RPG genre, I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.

Two years ago, I wondered whether defining titles were going to become a thing of the past. What effect do short attention spans and endless distractions have on video games? Could failure to reach the ending cutscenes and those associated moments of realisation mean an end to gamers experiencing a release which sets them off on their future digital path? I still don’t know the answer to these questions but maybe they’re ones I’ll put to my stepson when he’s in his early twenties to see how he responds.

In the meantime, I’m curious to see which game will make it onto my favourites list next and perhaps become a title which defines me personally. And what about you: which four releases would you choose?

23 thoughts on “The video games that define me

  1. To The Moon is an interesting choice; I picked it up some years ago but haven’t gotten around to playing it yet, but was intrigued by the story on the store page.


    • If it was the story which persuaded you to buy it, then definitely give it a go! It’s not for everyone because the gameplay is minimal, but the narrative is so lovely. I’m really looking forward to the third game this year. 🙂


      • The story sounded beautiful, I prefer a strong narrative over gameplay- I’ll definitely need to get it started. 🙂

        For the four defining games, I would have to say Resident Evil (1996), Final Fantasy VII (1997), Metal Gear Solid (1998) and Timesplitters 2 (2002).


        • Funnily enough, we were asking for recommendations about which Final Fantasy game to play first because my other-half and I have never completed one. VII seemed to be the most popular choice!

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’m not surprised! VII was the first FF game I played and certainly the first RPG I played (at the tender age of 11!) The whole thing just blew me away, from the story, the characters, and the blend of magic and machinery in the game world.


  2. To the Moon is incredible. As was it’s follow-up. I cannot *wait* for the third at the end of the year. The trailer is hilarious, but I am assuming there are going to be another few gutpunches in there on the way too.

    Because it is too good not to share; for anyone who hasn’t seen (To the Moon 3) Imposter Factory’s trailer yet, here it is:

    You’re welcome. xD


  3. Interesting list. I’ve only played Fable (which I loved!) out of the four listed here, but I need to checkout the other three. For me personally, my gaming track is defined by a singular company than a wide swath of games. That company is Blizzard.

    I grew up playing their games so Diablo II, Warcraft III, and Starcraft would be at the top of my list for sure. If I had to pick a 4th it would have to be Halo for sure. While I love these games, I recognize I need to explore more indie games.


    • I love the Fable series. The second is my favourite, and the third… well, we don’t talk about the third. Here’s hoping the fourth can make up for that. 😆

      There are some really strong choices in your list here. I’ve only played Diablo II myself but they all bring back memories for me – of my brother hogging the family computer when we were younger! Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Maybe there are some indie titles with a similar feel and mechanics that might get you hooked? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • If you’re looking for a great story and a game you can complete in one afternoon, then To The Moon is great! Just be prepared for the tears at the end. 😉


  4. I think for me I would pick ….
    1. Stardew Valley – something of a dream come true I guess? A beautiful landscape, a loving community, fulfilling work, and settling down happily with a family.
    2. The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time – tempting as it is to say Breath Of The Wild, at the end of the day OOT is the title that first got me into gaming, a now beloved hobby. What could be more defining than that?
    3. Dragon Age: Inquisition – this game was so much to me. Story, soundtrack, gameplay, meaningful choices … it is everything.
    4. Final Fantasy X – in my eyes, the last truly excellent Final Fantasy game that we have seen (besides the recent VII Remake) and also one of the best that there has been at all. I doubt I’ll ever forget playing through this masterpiece, discovering plot twists and being stunned by the beautiful scenery found throughout the game.


    • There are some great titles in your list! I love the way everyone’s choices give a little insight into their personality, because you can see similar themes or elements in all the games they’ve picked. 😊


  5. Pingback: Your Invite To the Moon (Play-Along) – Time to Loot

  6. I loved To The Moon. I recently downloaded its sequel (of sorts) Finding Paradise, but I haven’t had the chance to play it. I think I have Eastshade on my Steam wist list or I’ve already bought it. I like indie games a great deal, too, for the reasons you’ve expressed. I like that indie game devs are getting more play (pun intended). It allows more points of views and styles to flourish.


    • Finding Paradise is really good! It didn’t make me cry as much as To The Moon did but it has a lovely message at its heart – and there’s an interesting moment with Dr Watts at the end, but I’m saying no more. Really looking forward to Imposter Factory being released this year. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Some hot picks on here! Only one I’ve not played is Eastshade but I’ll be looking it up! To The Moon is also a personal favourite of mine like a few other people on here! I did a review on it a few years back and I still hold it close to my heart. That music just hits me everytime I hear it!


    • If you like To The Moon, check out the play-along being hosted by Naithin from Time to Loot. A few of us having been playing (or re-playing) the game over the past few weeks and then sharing our thoughts on each section. It’s late in the month but there’s still time to join in if you’re interested. 🙂


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