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Seven Games That Define Me


EDIT: Apparently the images are going loopy for no reason. Sorry if there are no images when you read this.

Whenever I start following a new blog, or reading a new website, I’m plagued with one question in the back of my mind: How trustworthy is this person? I’m sure everyone reading has had at least one experience where they started reading someone’s work, and then a few months later found out a viewpoint they had that was so insane that you couldn’t take their opinion seriously anymore. Whether that be “What? He thought Portal was boring?” or “He’s only played games since 1999?” There’s always the chance of some dark fact about their personality that you won’t find out till much later.

In an attempt avoid that for anyone looking at this blog, I’ve come up with this little list of games that I think define me as a gamer. This is not a list of my “favorite games” or anything like that. There’s a myriad of different types of people who play games today, and they all have different views on issues. I’m hoping these seven will reveal enough for you guys to deem me mentally insane or worth listening to. And hey, maybe it’ll catch on and you can make one yourself.

Goldeneye 007First game I owned / Not into competitive multiplayer

This was originally titled “first game I played” but everyone played Pacman when they were five, or borrowed a Gameboy to play Tetris. But as I mention in my Bio to the right, the Nintendo 64 and Goldeneye 007 were the first console and video game I ever owned in my possession. Goldeneye by itself didn’t have a massive impact on me and my views on gaming, but I think it’s important to note that I’m not an old-school gamer. All of my views on gaming rely on 1996 to the future. I’ve attempted to play older games, but playing them now as opposed to playing them when they came out provides extremely different experiences.

But I’d be lying if I said Goldeneye didn’t leave some sort of imprint on me. I’m apparently pretty good at first person shooters compared to everyone else. I do alright in online competitive play and I find myself gravitating towards FPS controls even in games like Ratchet and Clank. However despite all this I’m surprisingly not that big into competitive multiplayer. I don’t find anything appealing in proving my skill in something that ultimately does not matter.

I once had a friend of mine criticize my tastes because since I grew up on games with guns and shooting that’s what I tend to look for when I buy a game. I thought he was wrong, but I’m probably biased about the topic.

Final Fantasy XI’m a total puss

If you’ve ever played a Final Fantasy game you’ll know it’s largely focused on the characters and the events that affect to them rather than how much enjoyment you have playing the game. Final Fantasy X in particular was one of the first games I played when I was a young tot. It was a few months after the Playstation 2 had launched and I was at my cousin’s house playing this game, unaware of what it was called, what system it was for, who made it, or what it was about. My first encounter with this game didn’t last long; I made it up to the underwater ruins before Rikku finds you before getting confused and giving up. I was ten years old.

Despite this defeat, the game intrigued me. I tracked it down again two years later. I bought the $20 dollar Greatest Hits version and dived back into the world of Spira. It wouldn’t be another year and a half after my purchase that I would beat the game (due to being unaware of the concept of “grinding” and skipping every battle I got into leading me to be crushed by a difficult boss halfway through) but when I conquered the game’s lengthy journey it stuck with me forever. I loved the characters, I adored the story, and I became obsessed with the world. To me this was my Star Wars. I wanted to be a guardian and fall in love with some girl named Yuna. I spent an entire month after beating the game listening to the soundtrack and dreaming of walking on the Mi’hen Highway.

Final Fantasy X represents my affinity for melodrama in video game storytelling. There are plenty contemporary examples of this in games today-- with Half Life 2: Episode 2 being in most recent memory-- but Final Fantasy X is the one that did it to me first. It also made me realize that if a game has an intriguing story I can get over its faults. When I completed FFX I didn’t think “well the voice acting could’ve been better” or “man, Lady Yunalesca was the worst boss fight ever” I was in awe at what a marvelous adventure I had just finished. FFX continues to be one of my top five games of all time to this day.

Metal Gear Solid 4 I hate everything about this game

I’m sorry if you enjoyed Metal Gear Solid 4, or any of the Metal Gear games, because you’ll likely stop reading here and have already made your way to the X for the window. Let me explain where I’m coming from for the rest of you who are waiting to be convinced not to sign me off completely.

A few years ago Roger Ebert said something along the lines of “Video games are not art, and never will be art.” This of course caused a huge ruckus in the gaming community. There were copious news posts all over the internet, and they were accompanied by voluminous forum threads and posts arguing about the topic. One particular poster named “Revelade” on a forum that no longer exists made a topic concerning the quote, and his response was as follows: “Psh. Well its obvious Ebert has never played Metal Gear Solid.”

Movies have pioneered tackling controversial issues, recreating points of history, and even managed to make entire movies about someone who is dead. Books have done the same thing, but have also shown how beautiful the English language can be. And of course music has the ability to inspire activism, make you feel great, or fill you with pain and distraught. Now compare that to a Cyborg Ninja fighting against a Vampire and an army of Robots and tell me how it compares.

Show MGS4 to Roger Ebert, actually, show MGS4 to any adult and they will laugh in your face as you try to describe the artistic qualities of Metal Gear Solid. The plotline is totally absurd, and the sparse moments that it does have are vastly overshadowed by the ridiculous characters, and preposterous storylines. The fact that the game contains more cinematics than gameplay sequences is an unbelievably depressing note. A game is about interacting with it, not watching it. The fact that Kojima never even bothers to try to tell a story that plays to the strengths of the medium is the reason why I hate this loathe this game’s existence. It’s like saying “games can’t be art, so let’s try to mimic movies since they are.” If you haven’t already figured out, this is the vocal-equivalent of spitting on my ideas. If you enjoy playing MGS4 as a game, that's fine. But please, for the sake of the rest of the community's integrity, don't talk about it outside of circles that already play a lot of games. I'm begging you.

Grand Theft Auto 3Favorite franchise

When I was 11 years old I was exposed to a place called the “Teen Center.” It was a location where high school kids would hang out on Friday and Saturday nights. It was designed so that kids would spend time together in a community of peers and people who could supervise their safety. Instead of doing drugs and alcohol in the streets they’d hang out in the Teen Center. Ironically it turned into everyone meeting up at the Teen Center at 7pm and hung around until 10:30pm or whenever they decided to leave and get drunk. But alas, I was eleven at the time and unaware of its true purpose. Point of the story is: They had computers with GTA3 installed on them.

And since I was eleven and had grown tired of my Nintendo 64 I spent all my Fridays and Saturdays at the Teen Center playing Grand Theft Auto 3. To this day I hold GTA has the “oh shit” series that’s still around. I’m sure everyone remembers when they would count the days down to the release of Final Fantasy, Halo, or Metal Gear Solid. But for me that game was Grand Theft Auto.

I bought a new computer to play GTA3, I got a Ps2 for Christmas for Vice City, I had a subscription to GameInformer for the San Andreas article back in 2003, and the franchise was one of the main reasons I got an Xbox360. Grand Theft Auto has been a big part of my gaming career and continues to be. Although the series’ “untouchable” status has evanesced after a few years, I still look forward to everything Rockstar North does.

Dynasty Warriors 5: EmpiresThere is something wrong with me

I played Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires for over a hundred hours. That means I’ve likely spent more time playing the game than the developers spent creating it. The Dynasty Warriors franchise is notorious for reusing assets, animations, maps, and everything possible from their previous games. Despite the games having an average quality rate of “utter shit” they have a strong cult following that buys each new rendition of the franchise. For a few years I was a part of that following. I will admit that the game’s combat was extremely repetitive to the point of nausea, but yet those one hundred hours were wasted away into that game.

There is some twisted demented addicting aspect of the game’s monotonous gameplay. But unfortunately that’s no excuse for me. That addiction has become a trend in my enjoyment of video games. Every game that people label as “boring” and “repetitive” I’m likely to see as “wonderful” and “extremely satisfying.” I can’t explain it, but there has to be someone else out there like me.

Hitman: Blood MoneyObsessive Completist

Have you ever collected every hidden item in a video game? Have you ever memorized a boss pattern before? Yes? Alright. Have you ever been able to recite the routes of every guard, civilian, and target in a level from memory? No? Well that’s good it means you’re still mentally stable. The amount of hours I’ve poured into perfecting my technique in any of the Hitman games (especially Blood Money) is demented. I still replay Blood Money to this day messing around with my favorite tactics. I’ve gotten the highest rating on every mission, on every difficult. I’ve found every gun, hidden secret, and upgraded every improvement. I unlocked every achievement in the xbox360 version, sold it off, and bought it again on Steam only to repeat the process.

To be fair this obsession of completing everything is very off and on. For example I’ve been completing every side mission and finding every treasure in Assassin’s Creed 2, but I have no desire to shoot any pigeons in Grand Theft Auto IV. If the game puts me in the mood and makes it seem like I could collect everything, I will. This is also most likely why I never completed Red Faction: Guerilla since I spent more time trying to beat all the side quests rather than beat the actual game. And is likely the reason I have 42k achievement points.

StarcraftPC Gamer

Saying that you’re a “PC Gamer” isn’t like saying “I bought the Ps3 version of Devil May Cry 4.” PC Gamers have a totally different attitude about the gaming industry. For the most part a lot of them are pessimistic about the future, look down upon console gamers, and in general are douche snobs. I’ve surrounded myself with a few of my friends who are also PC gamers, and I’ve learned how annoying the attitude can be. My friend has told me that he thinks Fallout 2 is better than Fallout 3.

While I don’t share the same maniacal viewpoints as they do, I like to think that I am always considering every aspect of gaming and not just the consoles. I applaud developers like Crytek, Blizzard, and iD. These are developers who have not forgotten about the most vehement fans of video games, PC Gamers. Let’s be honest, you might really like a console exclusive game, but have you ever recreated the entire game of Final Fantasy 7 with that game’s editing tools?

I put Starcraft as the game for this bullet point, because it’s the most active “modding” community I have ever seen for any game. Starcraft had the unique function of “map making.” Well, the idea of making maps is not totally unique. But this editor allowed you to change the amount of health a unit had, how fast it regenerated energy, and even the names of the objects. With some advanced learning you could figure out a way to recreate the opening cinematic of Final Fantasy 7 using Starcraft units, trigger commands, and location placements. It’s pretty insane stuff, and I participated in it for a good four years of my life. If you ever get the chance to install Starcraft, download and play this map in Use Map Settings, it's literally nuts.

Well 2,500 words and four hours later, this took a lot longer than I thought it would. Should’ve gone with “the three games that define me” and saved you guys a few thousand words. tl;dr version would be: I think I am a PC Focused Obsessive Pussy GTA Fanboy who hates Metal Gear Solid and Competitive Multiplayer. I’d like to get some reader feedback on what games define them as a gamer. You can pick just one for example’s sake. Or hey if this inspired you to write a similar (shorter) article, post a link. Maybe we share the same views and I can start filling my day with more blogs to read.
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About DinosaurPizzaone of us since 10:04 PM on 11.15.2009

My name is Artie Augustyn... and I'm an alcoholic. No I'm not, but I feel inclined to say that joke when given the opportunity no matter how predictable it has become. I started playing video games in 1997 when my parents bought me a Nintendo 64 and pleading for one for years. I was given Super Mario 64 and Goldeneye 64 on Christmas, and a year later on my Birthday I got Ocarina of the Time. I eventually moved up to a GameCube based on the brand recognition. I was soon persuaded into the world of Sony after playing Dynasty Warriors and Vice City at a friends house, and now I stand before you with an Xbox360, Playstation 3, Wii and PC.

For the most part many people have considered me a "late gamer." I never owned a NES, SNES, Sega Console, or Atari and I get a lot of flak for that. I've begun an initiative recently to go back and play older games that people hold to high praise and you can follow that on my podcast which I'm sure I'll mention a thousand times in this blog.

In terms of my views on gaming, I'd like to think that gaming will one day achieve a level of professionalism and seriousness such as movies or books. I think there are a few reasons that this goal has been kept back. Many gamers don't take the notion seriously, in addition to many leading voices not knowing what they're talking about, and in general everyone's disbelief that it's possible for games to be something more than what they already are. Although, I found Destructoid's views to make the most sense out of what I've seen so far, so I made an account on that sole reason.

I think that covers everything.
Xbox LIVE:TheBrodeo


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