Both Luke and Zach's recent articles about their foray into the video game world caused me to reflect a little bit on my own history with video games. Most of the people who meet me recently assume that I have always been a Nintendo fanboy, but my love of Nintendo and the Wii didn't start until after I started working at EA. I don't want to give you a narrative of my video gaming history, as that would span several posts and Luke is already did his in that style. Instead, I'm just going to talk a little bit about several games which have had a profound impact on my life. These are games which have influenced me the most, not necessarily my favorite games of all time (granted there is some overlap).
Bubble Bobble (NES): When you think of Alex Ruiz, I can guarantee you that dinosaurs would be one of the first things to come to mind. This game is what caused my love for dinosaurs. I mean look at it! It is super cute and breathes bubbles! Anyways, some of my earliest memories of video gaming come from playing this game, and it remained a favorite of mine for a very long time. It was cute, challenging, and boasts one of the best video game soundtracks of all time (and when I say soundtrack I mean song, since there was only one song played the entire time. Still it was amazing).
Shining Force (GEN): When I was little, a Magic the Gathering craze hit my neighborhood, and basically every kid on the block was flinging spells at one another. It left pretty fast though, and within like a year everyone had basically stopped playing except for my brother and I, who were arguably the biggest nerds on the block anyways. I'm not sure that I would've kept playing Magic had it not been for Shining Force. Shining Force turned me on the entire genre of strategy, and strategy games basically rule my life now. Its also telling that during the times I am taking a break from Magic, I am playing through a game like Shining Force or Fire Emblem. At this point in my life, I need to be engaging is some form of in depth strategy at all times.
Final Fantasy VI (SNES): I've already written several blog posts on this game already, so everyone here should know by now how obsessed I am with it. This game basically turned me onto the entire RPG genre. Sure, I had played couple before this like Dragon Quest 1 and Shining Force, but this game is the main reason I love RPGs. After playing through it, I immediately played through Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG, all of the Phantasy Stars, Zelda, Secret of Mana, etc. To this day I still love the genre, although since JRPGs have been in decline they are now more of like a guilty pleasure for me. I realize that games like Arc Rise Fantasia and Tales of Symphonia are bad, but I don't care. I love them and I'm not sorry.
Heroes of Might and Magic 3 (PC): I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have gotten into college if it weren't for this game. Gord and I used to play it a lot in high school while studying and doing our homework since individual turns take so long one of us could actually get a fair amount of work done during the other player's turn. It fulfilled our need to hang out and play video games after school while still being productive. It was also the first PC game I ever got into, and paved the way for PC being my console of choice for most of high school and college.
Diablo 2 (PC): I almost didn't get into college because of this game. This game was one of the games which bound the Gord Clan together and united us under one goal: Kill tons of monsters and loot everything you can find. Before this game, my only multi-player experience had been either LAN or split screen. Diablo 2 gave me my first real taste of online multi-player. I wasted a lot of my life playing this game and I'm not sorry. Diablo 2 was one of the games which defined my entire high school experience.
Super Smash Bros. Melee (GCN): This game influenced me a number of ways. First off, I managed to establish a decent friends circle at EA through playing this game every day during lunch. Before Smash I basically didn't talk to anyone at EA because I didn't care about sports and I didn't play WoW. Jaime and Law started the Smash craze at work, and once I started playing with them I started actually making friends there. You could argue that Melee and Brawl are what created Canfield Manor, or at least what made it explode in population. Much like Diablo 2, Smash was a game that defined an entire era in my life. Lastly, trying to get good at Smash inspired me to try other fighting games. It wasn't until we started playing Smash that I had Zach attempt to teach me Third Strike and CVS 2. It basically opened up an entire genre for me, and taught me that other games besides Magic could fulfill my competitive urges.
Honorable Mentions: Mario Kart Wii (Wii), Aerobiz Super Sonic (SNES), Super Mario World (SNES), Mega Man 3 (NES), Fatal Labyrinth (GEN), Counterstrike (PC)