The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a throwback for me. I’ve been playing the Kingdom Hearts series, in chronological order for some reason, and then I ended up digging out my Mega-Drive and Master System, just to relive my gaming childhood just that little bit more. Going down memory lane in my own games, made me curious about a few things, such as where my friends, who class themselves as gamers, would say their obsessions began. It led to some interesting discussions.
There were some games that cropped up in a few peoples’ answers. A few people said Pokémon, which honestly, I was one of, it was one of the first games I remember playing. It was also one of a few games mentioned where the franchise is still going strong. Pokémon cropped up in our lives back in 1996, and it’s been a staple of games ever since, still cranking out new games, shows and films today. Pokémon was a game I used to play with my brother and sister, and until my brother moved away, he used to buy me a copy of a new game whenever it came out. My friend reminded me, when answering this question, that my sister was the person who got him into gaming through selling him Pokémon Red for £5 back when we were kids. My dad is the only other person who remembers this.
Another game mentioned a couple of times was Legend of Zelda. One friend told me that Ocarina of Time was a huge part of his life, while another girl told me via twitter that Wind Waker was a huge thing for her, it was the first game she properly ‘experienced’ for herself. The big franchises certainly ingrained themselves into a lot of lives, which accounts for them being big franchises. I had never played a Legend of Zelda game until I was about twelve, when a friend of mine acquired Twilight Princess a few years after it’s initial release on the Wii, and I remember enjoying it, if not understanding what all the hype was about. Since then I’ve played a few of them and bought a Nintendo Switch so I could play Breath of the Wild, needless to say I get the hype now.
One woman I asked told me that while Sonic on the Mega-Drive was her first game, the Tomb Raider games were the first that gave her the drive to finish games, however she didn’t consider herself a gamer until her 30s. Another friend gave me an itinerary, Kingdom Hearts at ten(represent!), then an XBOX 360 at 18, when they played Dragon Age Origins and Elder Scrolls Oblivion. Franchises like the ones mentioned above evolved with us and are a huge part of my friends who call themselves gamers today. Final Fantasy and Dragon Age are a huge part of me, and of a lot of other gamers as well I expect.
A couple of friends, one was the same one who mentioned Wind Waker, said a huge factor of their gaming lives was Halo. The first friend played the first mission of Halo a few hundred times, according to him at least, and the other said Halo 3 made him call himself a gamer due to being part of an online community of gamers. Communities have become a huge part of gaming. The same friend who loved the online community of Halo went on to pull all nighters on League of Legends, and used to play Minecraft at stupid-o’clock at night with me and some other friends. Overwatch for instance was how I bonded with my housemates at University, we’d all gather our consoles and TVs in the living room and team up, sometimes with friends from all over the world, and that connection made me feel, as a gamer, that I was part of something huge.
With the new Kingdom Hearts game finally having a release date – I’ve been waiting twelve years guys- a lot of things stirred up for me, including the curiosity that led to this article. Kingdom Hearts is how I connected with a few of my current friends, and it led me into discovering the Final Fantasy franchise well and truly, to the point I’ve now played as many as I could, which led me even deeper down the rabbit hole.
So, my gateway to video games was Pokémon, but Kingdom Hearts, somewhat ironically, was the final key for me to finally call myself a gamer. A lot of people say games like Zelda, Halo, and Pokémon, but it’s a fun topic to discuss! So, what was the game that gave you a gateway to gaming? And how do Online Communities make you feel as a gamer?