What Does Gaming Mean to You?

by VGChartz Staff, posted on 26 September 2010 / 9,168 Views

Playable Taliban fighters, an upcoming Supreme Court case, and the endless debates on whether games are art. With all these discussions and controversies we may sometimes forget what it is about gaming that draws us to it, and more importantly, what it is that keeps us here.

I’m not proposing that these arguments are unworthy of discussion by any means. It’s just that when you constantly look at all these macro trends and discussions, it’s easy to lose sight of what gaming means specifically to each and every person that picks up a controller, mouse, wand – whatever.

Everyone has their own unique view of gaming. Some prefer Halo, some opt for Call of Duty. You can’t get a sports game away from some people. Others prefer to take it slow with an RPG. Some play alone, some play with others.

My entire life has been centered around gaming, and I can’t exactly tell you how it happened. I know my first gaming memory consists of breaking my dad’s Intellivision by hitting the power and reset switches at the same time. Thankfully I’ve had better luck with consoles since then.

I grew up with the NES, Genesis, and SNES. I remember raging at the boat level in Castlevania III. My uncle got me Strider one Christmas and I remember thinking how awful the game looked. Just a few moments of gameplay proved how wrong I was. I can still feel the amazement when I remember seeing Terra, Vicks, and Wedge running up to Narshe for the first time.

Playing Bloody Roar 3 for months on end with an inseparable group of friends in high school taught me not only the mechanics of the game, but also how to deal with different psychologies and strategies both in and out of game. We could take a player’s strategy and moveset and expand that to how they would react in real-world situations. We used games as a sort of continuous thought experiment as a way of understanding the world around us.

I still hold many of the values I learned then true to my heart today.

There was a girl in high school I had the briefest of crushes over. It was probably a two week thing. If you ask her about it, she’ll claim she doesn’t even remember me. I reconnected with her on Facebook after I found out she started managing a used game store.

She said she knew nothing about games and wanted to learn. I offered my help. Six weeks later we were married.

Gaming has shaped my life in so many countless ways I feel obligated to write about it as a way of letting my experiences affect others in meaningful ways. I’ve mentioned before I’m pursuing a Master’s in journalism to write about gaming. As many people (correctly) pointed out, I’m probably a fool for wasting so much time and energy on a field that is still dominated by scantily-clad women reading off top ten lists.

It’s easy to find flaws in others, and it’s easy to turn those flaws into arguments that do nothing but divide. We may agree or disagree that playing the Taliban is tasteless, but we forget we all have something in common even through all the arguments.

We have gaming. It brings us together from countless experiences and places and we sit and talk with strangers about how we feel about the thing we all love to do. Progression of the field is important, but we should never forget what it is that gaming means to us.

What are some of your favorite gaming memories? How has gaming changed your life?

What does gaming mean to you?


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29 Comments

Jumpin (on 27 September 2010)

Final Fantasy Legend II, probably the most significant game of my life. While I already had a moderate interest in fables and old stories as a child, this game made caused me to go out and look up the mythology behind each of the figures in the game. It snowballed from there to the point where I was writing papers in University and minoring in the classical arts and majoring in History, and currently write semi-professionally on mystery religions, Roman economics, and the religious values of civilizations and how they evolved into the modern religions. Most emotional moments: 1. Turning on Final Fantasy III on SNES, I was a Square fan already, but this was their first of their masterpiece trilogy in my humble opinion. Finishing off Kefka for the first time gave me a rush similar to crossing the finish-line in the 100m. * Final Fantasy 7's intro, in my opinion, in its briefness, to this day I feel has one of the greatest impacts. * Final Fantasy 8 often gets a lot of hate, but this to me was the zenith of Square's creativity; they created a world in this game which (to this day) remains my very favourite in any game, ever. Even the small, seemingly unimportant moments of the game I found very heartwarming - especially when Laguna left on a Mission; just as he got the girl of his dreams - she remarried, and was killed in a car accident later, herself thinking Laguna was dead; it was some of the greatest tragedy that has ever been put to the format... Then with her song playing at the end, Laguna recalls his second love, Raine, and putting the ring on her finger. My wife walked down to the song eyes on me at our wedding ceremony. 2. Chrono Trigger, just when I felt amazed by Final Fantasy III, this came along; and the whole game just blew me away; the range of emotions felt in each time period. It was the most atmospheric game I had ever played - and I still feel that it remains near the top to this day. Skies of Arcadia I must mention to, it was the game that caused me to put Chrono Trigger down - although now I always play the two as a pair. Skies of Arcadia feels more Chronotriggerish than Chrono Cross. Super Mario Brothers III - to this day I still play the game on an infrequent basis. I might have 500+ hours in on it, given my whole life. This is the core spirit of gaming in my opinion, it is all captured right here: a grand adventure, a great challenge, a range of environments, and it's a great amount of fun on top of being entertaining. There's so much more; but these are most of the important ones,save: Faxanadu, Dragon Quest 4, Illusion of Gaia, Terranigma, E.V.O., and more.


kopstudent89 (on 27 September 2010)

NES, SNES, and 64. Really best times of my life! You'd wake up at 8 am on a Saturday just to play DKC or SMW. And don't get me started n the Pokemon hysteria i had! I've made countless friends from video games, put it in that sense :) Good read, made me get back all those memories back :')


SSDNINJA (on 27 September 2010)

@Michael-5 Thanks for the kind words. It's not about whether our stories are interesting though, it's about remembering our individual stories and sharing them with people we've never met, and probably will never meet. You went from not liking games to being the envy of your siblings in a few weeks, and then moved on to shape your own personal tastes in gaming. Every person's story is unique and interesting because of not only what the story is about, but how they tell it. We shared our stories, and that's pretty cool. It may not mean much in the grand scheme of things, but gaming brought us together however briefly, and that's what I wanted this to be all about.


Michael-5 (on 27 September 2010)

I also love throwing an impossible sticky grenade in Halo across the map and nailing my friends over and over and over. I have some natural telent for stickies, gotten people across sand-trap (halo 3) before, and man is it beautiful to see a sticky fly in the air for 5-7 seconds before hitting some poor soul that jumped right into it. Just have to get them when they are not looking, and estimate where the person and sticky will be after so long.


edrigo (on 27 September 2010)

I am a gamer i've proffesed it from the hill tops since i was a wee lad and i still do. No other medium has managed to continuesly shock and inspire me like games have. To me no other medium has managed to touch on so many various issues and illicit as many different emotions from me than games. This is why i feel that the industry shldn't aspire or try to emulate movies as i think everyone here has had great experience's as it is, instead just continue with the drive and creativity we have all witnessed over the year's. Here's to gaming! thanks for the article and good luck in your endeavours, it's coming from a good place and that's all u can ask 4 really


Michael-5 (on 27 September 2010)

Wow thats awesome about how you married a girl you helped manage a video game store in only 6 weeks. I wish I had some interesting stories. At first I didn't like games, my older siblings would play games, and I would think they were crazy for keeping their eyes glued to the tv, and all I wanted to do was go outside (I was 3). I only got into games when my siblings were alone, and wanted to see how terrible I would be in Donkey Kong Country. At first I was terrible, but in a month, I was better then my brothers and sisters, and they didn't want to play with me because I almost never died. Then games became something I was good at, hard games became goals of mine to beat, and after a while I started to play RPG's. I started to love the story in games, all games, shooters, RPG's, platformers. I thought any story could be told a lot better in 10-20 hours then in a 2-3 hour movie. Recently, some games really have been nailing this ideology, Heavy Rain, and Mass Effect both allow me to make choices in the game that alter the outcomes. I LOVE THIS! Chrono Trigger also did this, I played that game 10 years after it's release, and all 3 of these I include in my top 10 favorite games. So to me, gaming is my replacement for TV and Movies. A good game is much better to me then a good movie, and the challenge of a hard game is more appealing to me then a TV show. I just love beating my friends with an inferior car in racing games, I love putting in 60 hours into a good RPG, and I love the feeling of completing a nearly impossible game on it's hardest difficulty. I love all genres, except for sports games, I think I need to watch more tv to appreciate those. Thats about it, I would love to have a sick love story like you had dealing with video games, but the best I got is beating my brothers and sisters, after only a month or two of gaming.


sethnintendo (on 27 September 2010)

I could go on and on about how gaming has shaped my life. Atari 2600, NES, etc... but after I saw after 6 weeks we were married. There was nothing I can say to respond to that....


aaasss555 (on 27 September 2010)

just 1/3 of my life....hahahahhahaha relaxing!!!


theonewhoisme (on 26 September 2010)

Entertainment for the most part, but more specifically I like see new ideas and innovative gameplay mechanics and pretty much anything unique and innovative, some things can't be done in anything but a game like interactive stories which are hard as hell to pull off, but yeah, it annoys me when developers stop making innovations and just milking a series, I dislike the people who buy it every time more though, do they not realize whats happening?


MARCUSDJACKSON (on 26 September 2010)

a release, and a way to learn. gaming can and has taught us/me so much. gaming is a tool like no other. every game is educational wether its centered around education or just made for leasure. at the end of the day its either the perfect excape or the ultimate tool for education.


Vanbierk (on 26 September 2010)

@Dunno001 Agreed


dunno001 (on 26 September 2010)

Hrm... for me, I see all forms of entertainment as a means to escape reality. What makes it a game to me, and what it means, is that I can escape, and have some control over an alternate reality, if you will. What happens there doesn't affect me, but I can think about how it does affect those in that world.


Leunam (on 26 September 2010)

Entertainment and money.


Kantor (on 26 September 2010)

*sniff* That was beautiful :-)


brendude13 (on 26 September 2010)

On a lighter note i love gaming, its a lot more fun, educating, interesting and artistic than any other type of entertainment out there. Plus i can recall memories of my past easier by remembering the games i had played at the time. Downside is, it's addictive, time consuming, makes your eyes go pop and some people think you are a nerd.


brendude13 (on 26 September 2010)

Gaming to me, is playing a game which doesn't involve hip spraying aliens with plasma guns, so you can take your Halo, your Gears of War, and your Resistance, and cram it up your surprisingly loose ass hole. Bring on the Final Fantasy, bring on the DC re-releases, and bring on any other game which is immersive, fun and UNIQUE.


Salnax (on 26 September 2010)

@SSDNINJA People try to give lessons entirely grounded in reality all the time, but in games, I get to see how much weight they truly carry.


Red4ADevil (on 26 September 2010)

My memory is very hazy when it comes remembering the first time I picked up a controller; but it was the Super Mario Bros./ Duck Hunt combo when I was 3. As I got older I started playing games like super bomberman. But one game changed my life and got me in to the franchise; It was Super Metroid. as the years went by, I bought every game, with the exeption of Metroid and Pinball. Gaming is my life.


nandakoryaaa (on 26 September 2010)

> Then there was FFX, the game that brought me and my fiance together... awww...


Thulak (on 26 September 2010)

My first gaming experiences were when I was about 3 or 4, I used to walk to the software shop with my Dad some mornings (As he worked there). When I got there I would sit in the corner of the store and play Souls Edge (I think anyway), over and over again. Then after when I grew up a little we had a SNES in which I played one of the Bomberman games, a couple of them actually, can't quite remember which ones but anyway. I remember the first time I played Bomberman, it was when my Dad and my Uncle and some other people were playing it and I asked for a go. I immediatley blew myself up but had always kept a keen interest in playing nevertheless. I think after than I moved onto GoldenEye, Wave Racer, Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time. My Dad was always a keen gamer so we always had lots of consoles to play (Even a NeoGeo Pocket!). I've always loved gaming and at this moment in time I'm studying games at college. I take a National Diploma studying Games Development and hope that one day I will entertain people the same way people entertained me with their games when I was younger.


Nirvana_Nut85 (on 26 September 2010)

It was the fall of 89' and I was 3 years old (was a month or so shy of 4) playing Super Mario Bro's for the first time.......I'm now 24 (Going to be 25 in November) and I have to say that gaming has had some memorable moments in my life. I can remember getting frustrated with Dragon Warrior, to the endless hours of co-op that me and my cousin spent playing Contra III,being completely amazed at the vast world of LOZ: A Link To The Past, Beating 100 chestpounding levels in Donkey Kong Country, Getting in trouble for saying "holy shit" when me and my dad were watching the display for Super Mario 64, The hours I spent try to figure out the fucking Water Temple puzzle's in Ocarina Of Time (I eventually bought a guide but hey, I was 12) being amazed by the graphics for Star Wars: Rogue Squadron to being blow away the first time I played Gears of War and Uncharted Drake's fortune. I grew up with gaming for over 20 years now and I'll be gaming till the day I die.


Simulacrum (on 26 September 2010)

Gaming has changed my personality, with music, to what it is today.And I love it.


Severance (on 26 September 2010)

Gaming is my life, and i'll never want to change that.


nickvasko (on 26 September 2010)

i love my racing games


Cheddarchet (on 26 September 2010)

I remember playing my first video game when I was six. I had seen ads on TV for the N64, and I wanted one in the worst way for Christmas. The day it came, thought we hadn't gotten it, then my parents pointed out a note from "Santa" on the tree telling us to follow some yarn through the house. Follow it we did, leading straight to a blanket in the TV room concealing our first ever game system with Diddy Kong Racing and Super Mario 64. ^^


lolita (on 26 September 2010)

Gaming has been in my life for a long time, since I was really little, I guess for me it's more about memories and people I met. Memories about being with my dad's adoptive father, with his old systems like atari... My dad playing A Link to the Past for hours and helping me with my favourite game, Super Mario World. Beating my first game on my own, Ocarina of Time, and sparking my love for the Zelda series and Nintendo. Then there was FFX, the game that brought me and my fiance together...


Herbie95 (on 26 September 2010)

I started gaming at age 3 with Ultimate Doom. Haven't stopped since.


SSDNINJA (on 26 September 2010)

@salnax "Pokemon taught me that even a Magikarp becomes a Gyarados." I love sentiments like these. People are so quick to brush them off because of the comparison, but that is a real lesson that can hold real value for people. And props to your notation of the ability to empathize with a silent protagonist. If there's one lesson everyone should learn, it's caring for the people who can't speak for themselves.


Salnax (on 26 September 2010)

My first gaming experience was at age 3. I got on my mom's work computer and played some Solitaire. That was how I learned to count. As I played new games, I learned new things. Pokemon taught me that even a Magikarp becomes a Gyarados. Kirby taught me that copying an enemy is useful, but can also be risky. Goldeneye taught me that people can have fun together even when technically being competitive. Age of Empires taught me management and organizational skills. Even recently, I've learned things from games. The World Ends With You taught me about a self motivated form of philosophy. Metroid has taught me that if something doesn't seem quite right about a wall or an object, it's worth investigating. Chrono Trigger taught me how to cry for a character who never said a word. So, I guess for me, gaming IS learning.