June’s topic is set by Terry from Game Couch: What was the game that made you a gamer?
When I first read the question I thought it was going to be easy answering it. An older version of my about page from 2007 states: “The game that convinced me to buy an Xbox in November 2003 was Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic which to this day continues to be one of my favourite titles.” KotOR is still my first gaming love and many times I’ve wanted to write a post about it, but couldn’t put it into words. There are at least eight started posts in my drafts and I’ve mentioned the game several times before in other posts.
However, does it mean it is the game that made me a gamer?
I remember playing exactly five games until I was 20 years old. Two of those were Tetris and some Mario game on the original Gameboy stolen from my best friend pre primary school when he fell asleep on the seat next to me during a long car journey from Germany to Italy! The other three were Tomb Raider 2, 3 and 4 which I borrowed from my friend’s brother back in 90’s, although I’m pretty sure I still had them a few years ago.. Out of those games I vaguely remember completing Tomb Raider 2 using the official strategy guide and I don’t recall particularly enjoying playing any of the games, but for some reason I carried on regardless.
I officially got into games in 2003 when I took a job as a gamestester following a mostly fruitless jobsearch after having just moved to the UK. Money was running out, the company was looking for native German speakers and a friend of mine was working there. To say it changed my life doesn’t quite describe the impact that job had on me over the following four years. Yes, gamestesting, or rather playtesting, itself is a boring job. Running into the same wall twenty times or playing with certain test specific game settings to simulate average gamers or playing incredibly broken games isn’t fun. Neither is completing the same game 20 times a week for three weeks or playing a game that’s of no interest which, in my case, is football or puzzle games.
Yet none of that mattered on the 5th of August 2003. My memory being as random it is, I still remember the day as if it was yesterday though, if I’m being honest, probably better!
I had chosen a very hot summer to move to the UK; the terraced house I was sharing with a close friend and some of his friends was unbearable and the week before we had started to camp in the garden. I had moved to the UK just over a month prior to that and spent a majority of the time job hunting. Every shop in town had my CV, I had filled out countless application forms, but was only offered a cold calling telesales job which I quit after three days as the little commission I made didn’t even cover my commuting!
One of my housemates, a Spanish speaking student, had taken up a part time job working as a gamestester and he suggested I should apply for it as well. It took them over a week to require an additional German tester [I later learned they misplaced my application and had been desperate for a native German all along!] and get back to me and I got the phonecall late Monday afternoon asking me to be in at 8.30am the following morning.
The night was yet another hot night and none of us could get any sleep inside or outside and suddenly it was 7am and we had to leave to catch a bus, followed by a train and a 30 minute walk. Arriving at the office there was an introduction followed by the signing of contracts and a far too long and detailed NDA before finally starting my job.
I remember both games I played on that day, both of them sports games taking me completely out of my comfort zone as I didn’t know the rules to either of them! Of course, I was bad at them, even though I quickly learned the rules and after an hour or so I enjoyed them. I got the first couple of wins. There were cutscenes with winning celebrations. Upbeat music. Excitement.
Even though I didn’t realise it at the time I was hooked. Not necessarily hooked on the winning itself or the sense of achievement at completing levels or a game, but hooked to gaming. Games did things I couldn’t even imagine and it was fun which is why I bought an Xbox with five games in November 2003: Halo, Midtown Madness 3, Conflict Desert Storm, Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring and Wallace and Gromit Project Zoo.
So which of the above games made me a gamer? None and all of them equally. I do think the games I played on that first day had a large part to do with it as I ended up buying them at a later point, but there were many more games that had me coming back over and over again.
Are you as curious as me to find out what other people consider the game that made them a gamer? Read their posts:
- Aim for the Head: The Gamer I Am Today
- carocat.co.uk: A Trip Down Memory Lane
- Yuki-Pedia: A Tale of Two Games
- gunthera1_gamer: Early Gaming Experience
- Extra Guy: Ah yes, I remember it well
- The Average Gamer: What Made Me a Gamer
- Sivercublogger: Uncovering Lost Treasures
- Master Kitty’s World: Gaming Through the Years
- Gamer Unit: What was the game that made you a gamer?
- Game Couch: Karateka
- Next Jen: What Made Me into a Gamer
What was the game that made you a gamer?