This is a great question that takes a lot of thinking to answer. I’m gonna let this percolate and come back to it. The challenge for me is a lot of the strong yet intangible feelings I’ve had with games have been peripheral to the game. I strongly associate that feeling with the game because of the time when I played it, not so much because of a thing the game did. But I’m sure there’s something where the feeling went the other way.
I’m not sure if it’s in exactly the same vein, but (10+ years ago) I checked in on animal crossing for the first time in like 2 years and found a bunch of letters and presents from my ex girlfriend - she’d sent them when we were together, but I had stopped playing and didn’t see them til we’d been broken up for over a year. That’s some kind of intangible feeling of needing to avoid social media or locking down your email so you don’t experience something potentially shattering, but it was more facilitated by the game than something mechanically in there?
I’ll keep thinking about it.