What’s my #Gamesstruck4? Well, I’m glad you asked. If you can’t tell from the thumbnail, my four most influential games from my childhood are; Starcraft: Brood War, Pokemon Emerald, Maplestory, and League of Legends. And since this isn’t just a Twitter post, I can actually get into the nitty-gritty of why I picked these four, or rather why they picked me.
Starcraft: Brood War
Where do I start? Brood War was the defining game of my early adolescence. It’s the one that I most fondly look back on and think, “Hey I should download that and run through the campaign again, for old times’ sake”. It was a buggy mess, the AI was horrible, the Dragoons always got themselves caught in trees and on rocks, and I loved every second of it. Lots of hardcore gamers refuse to truly enjoy a game until it has ripped their will from their body and bludgeoned them with it repeatedly. Brood War did that to my fragile 10-year-old ego without ever being a really challenging game. I was horrible at video games back then (I still am, nothing’s changed), to the point where I only used the mouse to play Starcraft. This game frustrated me to no end, and I actually still have never beaten the final Brood War campaign mission without cheats (thanks, Power Overwhelming). It introduced me to serious video games and actually started my interest in esports when I went to MLG Anaheim to watch the Starcraft II there in 2012. Without Brood War, I never would have gotten involved in esports in the way I did, so it definitely takes a prime position in my top 4.
Pokemon Emerald Version
Emerald is actually a full two generations removed from the first Pokemon game released after I was born (Yellow), but since I wasn’t doing anything other than eating, sleeping, and crying for the first few years of my life, I didn’t really get a chance to play any of Generation 1 or 2. And another fun fact: I never actually bought a copy of Pokemon Emerald. My next door neighbor and I always hung out, and he had a second GameBoy Advance that didn’t have the battery cover, so he sold it to me and told me to take one game out of his collection. I probably should give him something in return for that, because Emerald ended up meaning so much more to me than a freebie game that came with a second-hand console. Emerald was one of my first games that didn’t have an educational spin and it made a lasting impression on me. Everything about this game was great. It was incredibly content-rich for an otherwise linear game like Pokemon, the profound sense of adventure it brought resonated with eight-year-old me, and the music. Oh god, the music. There wasn’t a weak piece of music in that game. I would sit in Slateport City and listen to the bells go on and on for minutes on end. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire managed to rekindle some of that nostalgia, but Emerald will always be the best in my mind. By the way, if anyone has a copy of Emerald that they’re willing to sell, you can DM me on Discord at @Kau’Cix#3660.
It actually took me a fair bit of convincing before I decided on putting Maplestory on this list. I don’t like Maplestory anymore, unlike the rest of the games on this list. It’s changed too much from what it originally was and that makes me sad. It used to be the perfect grindfest, frustrating to maneuver, hard to understand, poorly translated at some points, and but most of all, it was rewarding. You really appreciated every single level and every finished quest. Someone other than me has to remember 999 Green Mushrooms, right? I went back a year or two ago and checked, it’s 50 mushrooms now. That’s the kind of thing that turned me off of Maplestory in the end: it got too easy. And before I go full “back in my day” and start ranting about how kids have it too easy these days, I want to say that Maplestory taught me patience and brought a new dimension into gaming for me. I never paid for WoW, but I understood how these guys felt grinding out mobs and raiding the same dungeon sixty times to get the one drop. And the art of Maplestory was so beautiful. Even on the little pixelated chibi sprites, every little cosmetic item made an impact on me. It was the game that introduced me to anime and eastern-style art in the first place. So, even though it hasn’t been any good since the Big Bang, Maplestory still takes a place in my top 4.
Before I get into it, I want to share with you my metric for why these are my top four games. The first one is memories. Starcraft has so many old memories and experiences that ended up meaning more and more as time has gone on due to the fact that video games and esports are a pretty big part of my life now. The next was nostalgia value. Pokemon, while I haven’t seriously played any of my Pokemon games in over a year, was all I did for a large part of elementary school. “Playing Pokemon” in the recess yard was a huge part of making friends through grade school, running around and pretending to be either the Pokemon or their trainers. After that, I had to put Maplestory next, just because although I hate to admit it, I spent more time playing Maplestory than I did playing Starcraft and Pokemon combined. It sucked up so much of my free time that I ended up referencing it in most of the biographical introductory Language Arts pieces we always wrote in grade school. I’m pretty sure through a vast majority of elementary and the beginning of middle school, I managed to sneak in either a direct reference to Maplestory or my waking up at 4:00 am so I could grind a few bosses before school. And now, for the final spot in my #Gamesstruck4: League of Legends
League of Legends
League of Legends has to take the #4 slot for one big reason: I can’t see myself not being interested in it any time in the near future. I’ve been playing League for almost seven years now and nothing is the same anymore. It’s constantly changing and that was exactly what I needed in a video game to keep me interested. The game is always finding new ways to challenge me, and I’d like to think I’ve risen to the challenge. But the game itself is only the smallest part of it. When a friend got me into League, I figured, “hey, this’ll be something that the two of us play once a weekend for a few weeks”. That’s what happened, and as we grew apart, my jaunts onto Summoner’s Rift became less and less frequent. Then one day while my cousin was visiting and we were talking about Starcraft, he mentioned League. We played a few games, then I realized that I actually liked playing it with him. So then we played regularly, and I mentioned it to a friend on the cross-country team, then another, then I got my girlfriend into it, then my brother, and now, four years later, there’s almost a dozen of us that still hang out and play various games. League of Legends was something common for us to bond over, and without it, we never would have forged the bonds that hold us together now. Of course, that can really happen with any game, but League of Legends was the game for us, and that was invaluable for bringing my band of misfits together and keeping us together. And it still does that today. I’ve made some friends through League of Legends in this semester that I’d have never otherwise met, and I know some shy people who have been brought out of their shell because of League meetups and hangouts. It’s a special game that can forge a tight-knit community out of the vats of toxicity that make up the general population, but that’s what makes League my number four.
Any questions, comments, concerns? Are you determined to tell me that the defining games of my childhood are wrong and that I should feel bad? Leave a comment down below and I’ll make sure to respond with the appropriate amount of snark.