Welcome one and all to a very Athena Veta season of good will! Athena’s a friend of the show, as it were, and general all-around cool person; she also happens to be extremely smart, so check out her blog at the AmbiGaming Corner for deep and well-considered thoughts on what we can learn from gaming as well as a whole bunch of other always-interesting stuff.
For the holiday season this year, Athena’s coordinated an event based on that classic Marmite of tunes (you love it or you hate it): The Twelve Days of Christmas. Each day from December 26th to January 6th, we’ll look at a gamified version of one of the song’s lines until eventually we have 364 gamey gifts!
On the first day of Blogmas, the gamers said to me: What are twelve favourite gaming memories?
Wow. Okay, that’s a heck of a starter. We’re going from twelve to one, so the first day is the one that requires the most answers, but sheesh. Twelve favourite gaming memories? I’ll have to check out all the other responses to this question, ‘cos it’s a big one and there’s bound to be a lot of really cool stuff in there!
For me, I have some great memories of specific moments within games, but gaming has also brought me to this community of like-minded people from all over the world, people I consider friends now (as well as being a fan of their work!) whom I’d never have had the chance to talk to if I hadn’t decided I liked games enough to write some nonsense about them. So with that in mind, here are twelve favourite memories courtesy of a love of gaming, but which may not all be directly about games. In fact, you’ll notice that most of these are about more than just the game at hand in one way or another: a lot of my most fond memories of games, I realise, are the ones where I was experiencing things with other people. That’s a pretty cool thing.
12. Kingdom Hearts – Babby’s First Console Game
11. Blogger Blitzes I & II
One of the first things I had the honour of taking part in as a member of this blogging community was the Blogger Blitz, courtesy of Ian at Adventure Rules. In year one I was a judge, so I got to see the amazing things produced by all these new friends each week; then in year two I was a participant representing Master Xehanort in the sequel. Both years were brilliant fun, and I hope to be part of many more!
10. Late-Night Civilization V
University wasn’t always easy; all my friends were off on other sides of the country. One of the best nights I had was one which addressed that problem very nicely: a friend suggested that I ought to play Civilization V, so I got it and three of us started up a game together. They taught me to play as we went through, and we played only two matches before realising we’d been at it all night. Over the next few months we racked up hundreds of hours in that game, and I still don’t feel I know what I’m doing at all in it!
9. The Misadventures of the XBox 360 and Final Fantasy XIII
The first console I bought for myself was an XBox 360: it was on sale at Argos, I think, so I put on a rucksack, trundled into town, picked up this heavy box and put it in my bag and then walked all the way back home with it on my back. I was buying it pretty much exclusively so that I could play Final Fantasy XIII, and that game did not disappoint. Just the opening cutscene and beginning sequences had me enthralled – it looked so different, so much better in many ways, than anything I’d played to that point. So I picked up the console again and walked to a friend’s house, plugged it into his TV and said ‘you’ve gotta watch this’. And then we played through the whole first disc of FFXIII together!
8. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: The Multi-Platform Experience
I was a pretty big fan of Harry Potter as a kid, so after seeing the first movie all I wanted was to get more of this thing. That’s how I ended up getting a Game Boy Advance: I just wanted the game of Philosopher’s Stone! I actually think it was a pretty decent game – I played it on my GBA, I played the PS1 and PC versions at a friend’s house, and then we read the book and watched the film again and then when we’d played all the games we made up our own game based on the series. I’m no longer a particular fan of the franchise, but those are fond memories nonetheless.
7. The PS4 Chronicles
This is kind of a broad one, but just ‘life since getting a PS4’ is a good memory for me. It’s the first time I’ve had a current console since back in the PS2 days, so being able to experience new adventures has been awesome. It’s also the first console I’ve owned jointly with someone, and sharing those adventures has been super rewarding: making my way through the Tomb Raider games and the Crash Bandicoot trilogy with my partner Hannah, who is way more familiar with both franchises than I am and played them extensively when they were on PS1, has been a great experience both in terms of having a good time playing games and also doing something fun and bonding with my other half. We’ve also found new things to enjoy together, like Spider-Man, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Overcooked (more on that in a minute).
6. A Very Wormy Weekend
Y’know Worms? You know, that game where you’re… worms? And you shoot weapons at other worms and stuff? I had a great weekend in college, I think, where I was invited to go to a friend’s house and play some games. There were four of us who hung out (we were also in a band, and even played a few gigs together before going our separate ways when university and a couple of ill-fated romantic relationships between members made things tricky!), so we hooked up a Worms game and all played as teams of worms against each other. We were planning to play other stuff, maybe sleep or go outside at some point, but we ended up just playing repeated games of Worms for most of the weekend. It was pretty awesome.
5. Cooking, Overcooking
I really like Overcooked – I did a review of it for The Well-Red Mage, in fact (and later one for its sequel too). The main reason for my fondness isn’t because it’s an amazing game, though; it’s not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but in a lot of ways it’s nothing particularly special or revolutionary. But it brings people together, and it was the most fun Hannah and I had had playing a game together in… ages! We enjoy playing games together, but it often involves one of us playing through a single-player campaign while the other watches and swapping controllers every so often; Overcooked, though, was a true two-player experience that we’ve not really been able to replicate before or since. (If anyone has any suggestions for similarly fun two-player games, do let me know!) It’s just fun, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need to share with someone.
4. I’m A Real Pokémon Trainer, Maybe
When Pokémon Go first came out, I was hooked. The great thing about it was that it gave me a reason to go walking around, exploring, finding new places; it made ‘regular’ walks more interesting and motivated me to investigate areas I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. I got a bit too hooked, I think, eventually discovering ‘hack’ versions that allowed me to teleport all over the world to catch Pokémon that weren’t possible for me to get legitimately, and eventually I realised I’d kind of gone past the point of it and just stopped. I am, however, planning to pick it back up again and start entirely anew soon, and this time do it fairly.
3. The London Get-Together
I’m still kind of astonished that I can say this, but I have actually met, in real life, someone I became friends with on the Internet because of gaming. For more on that, see here! Suffice to say, though, that my friendship with Kim is a special one to me because she’s the person who first brought me into the community. I wouldn’t even know that all these awesome people were here if not for her, and if I didn’t know that I would probably have given up on writing. So thanks, Kim!
2. 525,600 Minutes
As I mentioned in my Kingdom Hearts piece, most of my gaming capability as a younger kid was defined by what I could get my hands on from Choices, the game rental shop. (I mean, you could rent movies and stuff too, but games were the only thing I cared about.) Because of that shop I was able to play Pokémon for the first time, to try things I thought I’d like before buying them, to discover new things without any risk of regretting a purchase… truly, that was a special thing to have.
(The 525,600 minutes is a joke, sort of. ‘Cos… that’s a song in Rent, the musical. And… and it’s about… renting… stuff. Joke. Rent. Thanks.)
1. The Sound
This being number one doesn’t mean I treasure it more than other things on this list, by the way, but I thought that this might be one of the most all-encompassing things I treasure about gaming, so here it is.
I love music. I really do. And if it weren’t for gaming I’m not sure I’d have realised how much I love music. I only learned to play piano so that I could play tunes from games; I took Music as a subject at GCSE (that’s the end-of-high-school, age-16-ish exams in the UK, for those who don’t have ’em) pretty much just so I could write essays about how great Nobuo Uematsu is and convince everyone in my class of it too. I even managed to get my teacher to let me play Final Fantasy X‘s To Zanarkand at a school concert, and after that went down pretty well I convinced her that our choir should definitely take on Baba Yetu, which I may or may not have mentioned is the main theme from Civilization IV.
I don’t think I’d have such a wide taste in music if it weren’t for all the different sounds I discovered through hearing them in the form of OSTs, and I found that I really like composing in a soundtrack sort of style, too, so I have games to thank for an entirely different hobby!
And those are twelve of my favourite gaming memories! It’s certainly not an exhaustive list, but thinking about it has made me remember some good times that I’m grateful for, so… thanks, Athena!
Of course, I’m writing this in advance, so I don’t know who else is taking part or what they’ll have written, but I bet there are a bunch of other awesome people writing incredibly cool things on this very topic today, so check out the AmbiGaming Corner and probably Twitter for some links! See you tomorrow for the next day of Blogmas…