Games That Had A Transformative Impact In Your Life

Something happened to me for the first time in my life the other day. I was playing an arcade-type game and then suddenly…. I felt like I was wasting my time!!! I wondered what was the point of playing that if it didn‘t really have a meaningful impact on my life!!! Oh no, what’s going on!!!

I'm sure this is just a phase, as I'm a big believer in the importance of idleness. However, lately I've been feeling a bit crushed by Time and as an artist I feel that at this point I got no time to lose............ I still gotta play my wideogames tho LMAO

In all seriousness though, videogames are a important source of inspiration for me. I think every great work of art has the potential to transform one's life in some sorta way or another, and of course games are no different.

So today I wanna ask everyone: what are some games that you felt had some sort of transformative impact in your life? Games the have a great meaning to you for some reason or another; games that inspired you; games that brought deep reflections about Stuff; games that don't feel like a pass-time; games that brought deep emotions, feels, catharsis, etc. They say a person can't cross the same river twice cause the second time they do so, they (and the river) will already be different beings..... so games that feel like that river... or that person... or something...

Here's the couple of ones that impacted me the most, to get things going:

  • - Mother 3 - this is something I wrote on a review I wrote after beating this game: “I think I'm safe to say that it changed me for the better. It made me want to go back to reading more books and watching classic masterpieces of cinema. It made me want to travel more, but more importantly, it made me want to care more about the world and be a better person. To protect and fight for my community and my loved ones.”
  • hehehehe rereading that makes me kinda embarrassed but i don't thing it gets more transformative than this lol. Definitely the best example I have

  • -

    Bomberman Hero - The one with the biggest impact on me artistically, probably. I used to rent this off blockbuster just to listen to the soundtrack. Revisiting the game and its music at nights and rainy days during a trip to this sorta magical, ghibli-esque beach I went to after finishing college was so pivotal for me and for my music. Also without it I probably wouldn't have my current job which is to DJ video game music on youtube lol. Too bad the game sorta suckssss hahaha.

  • -

    Katamari Damacy - It just kinda makes you look at the world in a more colorful way now, doesn't it?

  • -

    Dark Souls - This one feels like a dream that **I** had while **I** was sleeping. Just looking at the logo at the side of the box in my shelf transports me to this oneiric state. Crazy stuff. I can't really put it in words.

  • EDIT: Just thought about this and I don't mean that arcade games can't cause any of those reactions btw! Katamari and Bomberman are kinda arcadey after all. I just mentioned that cause the specific game I was playing when I started reviewing my life choices was arcadey in a bit of a dull way (just shoot a bunch of stuff with not many other inspiring characteristics).

    Mother 3 (and EarthBound!) is my usual go-to answer as well, but I experienced it when I was too young to try putting together a review like that! A lot of time has passed since then obviously, enough where every now and then I'll notice little quirks and aspects of myself that almost certainly came from the Mother games rubbing off on me at such a young age.

    Growing up, I was home by myself a lot because my parents divorced when I was in kindergarten, so my dad started meeting other women and living with them in pretty far-off towns and cities, and my mother spent a lot of time at work to support me and my slightly older sister. At that age my sister thought it was lame to hang out with her younger sibling, so when I say I spent a lot of time alone, I mean the house may as well have been empty for the entirety of my formative years. What I had in place of a family was video games. That sounds awful, but I think I turned out alright...!?

    As you can imagine, basically all the games I started accumulating at that time are incredibly significant to me. It also helps that they coincidentally all wound up being really incredible games that don't need crushing loneliness to enjoy; _The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker_, _Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door_ (this game is the reason I became a musician!), _Kirby and the Amazing Mirror_, _Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga_, _Luigi's Mansion_, _Pokemon Sapphire_, and most crucial to my initial point, _Super Smash Bros. Melee_. Reading that title, you already know where this is going, so I'll skip some details.

    During Christmas when I was in fourth grade, my mom somehow managed to get together an incredible lot of games. To be clear, we were not even remotely close to wealthy (if we were I'd have grown up in very different circumstances!) - so the fact that she was able to get some of these games still confounds me. To this day I still ask her how she managed to get a hold of them, which she always replies she can't remember, but that it surely didn't cost much at all. I'm getting ahead of myself, though - to fill you in, these games were: Super Mario All-Stars, Super Mario RPG, Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, and of course, EarthBound. [That copy of EarthBound is still my most cherished possession to this day.]( I still remember that the first thing I ever put in as my favorite food was "BONBON," because that same Christmas day my mother had also gotten me and my sister some bon bon chocolates. Looking back, even though I spent a majority of my time alone, my mother really did try to make up for lost time whenever she could. I was lonely growing up, but not unloved.

    In any case, a couple years pass, I'm in middle school now. EarthBound is thoroughly my favorite thing in the world, and though I can't exactly explain why, I can feel it's doing something profoundly different from the other games I had. I doodle EarthBound enemies in the margins of my school papers and start researching it more deeply online. Coincidentally, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is also coming out soon, and a character called Lucas is in that... Second verse the same as the first, everyone has this part of the story, so we'll skip ahead.

    I will say this right now: Mother 3 is an incredible game at any age, but being a tween might be the perfect time to play it. You're starting to think a little more critically about things, but haven't been exposed to much to start shaping your views in any particular way. Everything is as new as when you were a kid, but you can actually start processing things more intelligently and more personally. The amount of things Mother 3 introduces to someone like that, with a friendliness, honesty, and passion impossible to find anywhere else... It'll change someone's life. And obviously I'm speaking from experience! That game changes someone's life so thoroughly that my only experience with it for years was 240p let's plays on YouTube since I couldn't figure out what an emulator was or how a Japanese game was in English, and it still impacted me like this.

    I often half-joking half-not (the half-not is the larger half) say that EarthBound and Mother 3 raised me more than my parents did. I really don't think that's an exaggeration, either. In the same way people will say things like "Ugh, I sound like my mother," or "You have your father's eyes," I find myself frequently noticing things about myself that didn't come from my mother or my father or my sister or my friends or my teachers or anyone, it came from those Mother games. They tend to be parts of me that I quite like, as well. The Mother games were a crucial part of me becoming who I am today, and I'm glad I got to become who I am with their help.

    @“Funbil”#p42445 Just wanted to say, this was a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Regarding Mother 3: I always say it is my favourite game of all time, but I didn't experience it until I was 26 years old. I'd love to hear from someone who experienced it for the first time in their 40s, 50s, or 60s. I feel it has the potential to impact anyone, regardless of their age and experience. It's kind of in a class of its own, isn't it.

    As for me personally, I probably wouldn't have moved to Japan if it weren't for Shenmue. So, thanks(?), Yu Suzuki!

    Just like Shenmue, Japan tries your patience at every turn, and is often intentionally boring. But it is tranquilly beautiful and full of weird, memorable characters, and will probably never be completed because nobody has that kind of budget.

    @“whatsarobot”#p42447 Totally agree about the age thing! Of course being 23 now there‘s things I can understand more keenly about that game which may have flew over my head when I was younger (I certainly didn’t know what socialism was!), and in that same way I‘m sure there will be things I’m not detecting now which I will once I‘m older, too. With age comes experience, and with experience comes awareness. I guess in that way, someone with very little experience like a pre-teen, and someone with a lot of experience like someone in their 60’s, you're right that the exact same things in Mother 3 may hit very deep with both of these kinds of people for the same yet opposite reasons. Humans are weird. Feelings are weird. Mother 3 owns.



    Humans are weird. Feelings are weird. Mother 3 owns.

    I want this on a t-shirt.

  • - Pokemon Blue - Got it in 1st grade, was living with guardians who illegally adopted me, living in extremely bad place and provided no stimulation whatsoever, basically set me on the path to obsess over video games forever.
  • - _Earthbound_ - I bought a SNES from my classmate for $20 in 2nd grade and earthbound inspired me to eventually run away, pollyana style, no worries, eating hamburgers out of the trash, dumpster diving every night, living out of a backpack in LA. also the first game that made me cry during the ending.
  • - _Katamari Damacy_ - whirled peas
  • - _No More Heroes_ - before I ran away and began cultivating my own living spaces, my adopted guardians were extremely restrictive of my personal space, coming into my room and going through drawers, throwing things away, chosing things that go on the wall etc., so Travis' apartment in this game was goals. My first apartment was very similar. Now I live in a van though lol.
  • - _Earthworm Jim_ - probably the first time I played a game that was super hard by today's standards, committed to it and got really good. There was a time where my adopted parents took everything out of my room except for a bed and the bible, so I went to the CD store and got a sega model 2 with sega cd for $20 to listen to frank zappa cds I bought once a week along with sega genesis games.
  • - _Psychonauts_ - I was the right age for this game when it came out, and I was still really obsessed with Earthbound. I was in that 8th grade phase of "studying psychology", lol.
  • - _King's Field / Demon's Souls_ - at this point in my early 20's I had a very rough time after high school, becoming homeless again and then getting various kitchen jobs to barely make rent each month, having a really hard time trying to date, etc. and these games were like an opiate to numb my depression. After a while my life itself began to feel like a Souls game.
  • - _Mother 3_ - this was the biggest gift I'd ever asked for, let alone from my biological grandparents who were always living on social security. I got the mother 3 deluxe box in 2006 and it's my most coveted thing, probably. I remember the smell of the soap I would use to wash my hands before I played the game. I played through it in Japanese, with a gamefaqs translation guide on my ipod, which had to be broken into 500 small text files. I still cried a bunch! Also later after graduating high school and becoming homeless for the second time, a roommate stole the deluxe box from my old room after I returned to the streets. It somehow ended up with a mutual but distant friend, who later gave it back to me in 2014 by some miracle.
  • I reference this Metroid II review a lot,
    _[A Maze of Murderscapes by S.R. Holiwell](
    Because I was also playing games on my DMG while homeless. I had a yellow DMG, and I 100%'d every Wario Land game on it, as well as Metroid II and others. Unlike Holiwell I have never stayed in a shelter though, and was always living out of a backpack, tent, car, back yard etc.
    I once played through Pokemon Red entirely on one set of AAA batteries on my friend's gameboy pocket _with no functioning screen_, just going by sound queues. I basically did an AGDQ blindfolded run casually on the street in 2010.

    I did not care too much about videogames until a friend and I rented earthbound from blockbuster because the box stood out, and the big game book came with the rental - It was the combined experience of working through the game and being engrossed by the book in parallel that did it for me. I guess it was the signal that the game object could connect to the imagination instead of just being a get the high score and win the game thing

    and not long after that I used my allowance to buy the FFVI strategy giude bc all that amano art and the way it was written as narrative had a similar effect. I think other people on this forum prob had similar experience w the art for ffvi...


    @“treefroggy”#p42451 some miracle

    cosmic justice

    remembering that I broke my collarbone trying to do street fighter II moves in my back yard I think that counts (I was 32 at the time)

    The Beginner‘s Guide is always so hard to talk about, but if you haven’t played it please do and go in blind. It‘s maybe 90 minutes front to back and it’s the only videogame that has affected me emotionally (alright ok parts of KRZ, Earthbound, and Lost Odyssey too I suppose, and ZeroRanger, and Firewatch, and….)

    Just play it. It's a singular game.

    @“Funbil”#p42445 what beautiful mother testimony T__T thank you so much for sharing!!

    @"whatsarobot"#p42449 I wish they'd port shenmue to the switchhhh. that's the only platform i have right now that could run it

    @"treefroggy"#p42451 thanks for sharing your story too. that's quite a life, wow!

    @"MichaelDMcGrath"#p42510 i'm not a huge fan of the stanlay parable, would you still recommend the beginner's guide? And so cool that ZeroRanger affected you emotionally! I cried my ass off when I beat Radiant Silvergun lmao (even though I understood zero japanese). Only had the chance to get the first (bad) ending in ZR and I can't wait to play it some more.

    @“fugazi57”#p42629 Hard to say. It‘s a much better game in my opinion but it’s playing with similar themes in a similar space. It has a lot more to say than The Stanley Parable, and it‘s short enough that you won’t have wasted much time if it ends up not doing it for you

    Aw jeez this one is a little out of left field and possibly the dumbest reason why but here goes.

    THPS3 got me into game development. Specifically, the credits video.

    As a teen in middle school, from the American midwest, and growing up in a kind of impoverished single parent family the onus had been on me to become some kind of engineer. I had originally wanted to work with robots because programming was kind of fun and robots were kind of fun too. However, this became my first glimpse of what videogame developers even looked like. And the conception that not only could I do this for a living, but actually have a good time while doing it, suddenly made me commit to the idea entirely. I think what I wanted at the time was the comradery of being in a group of people like this. As I said, I was in middle school at the time and getting pretty relentlessly bullied, and my friends group from elementary school had been broken up by the whims of my district's middle school schedule.

    Now about 2 decades later I'm about to ship the 3rd AAA game I've worked on. In hindsight a lot of these developers were probably goofball bananas because of sleep deprivation due to brutal crunch. I've suffered a lot of losses and a lot of setbacks, and skirted the edges of burnout. I'm not sure if I want to track former neversoft developers down and thank them, or blame them. All I can say it, this dumb video became an inflection point in my life.

    No one single game comes to mind but watching the 1996 Spaceworld N64 reel on a VHS that came free with issue 1 of N64 Magazine a few weeks shy of turning 11 was a transformative experience for me. Other than Mario Kart 64 and Star Fox 64 the games that I was most enamoured by in the video were largely ones that never got a Western release (Wonder Project J2 and 64 Ozumo in particular) and are the reasons why I recently bought a Japanese N64.

    @“yeso”#p42503 Pokémon blue’s manual + guide hit me right in my imagination so hard I’m still feeling the shockwaves. I had the earthbound guide but I collected all the Japanese official APE books and then it felt complete….there’s soooo much world building in all the MOTHER derivative stuff… but eventually all my rare, priceless, one of a kind books were stolen I’m the mail in 2020 and my heart was beaten bloody for then 20th time.

    When I was 10 I had a close friend who was a year above me in school, he was a bit more confident and brash than me and used to drag me along on things - one day I came into school and he started telling me over and over about a new game he was playing called Phantasy Star Online.

    We to his house one day and he took me through the game and it lit up something in me, that Christmas I got a Dreamcast from my parents in some bundle pack that came with copies of Quake 3 Arena, SEGA GT and a copy of Virtua Striker. This friend would then go on to give me his 'broken' copy of Shenmue that he had acquired which had a semi-functional second disc and a completely inoperable third.

    I played that first disc, without a memory card, for months and months until I picked up a copy of Phantasy Star Online V2, a keyboard and a VMU.

    After that I got into forums, PSOQuest was one I used to hang around at that time and got exposed to a bunch of other stuff that formed my interests. I blame Phantasy Star Online for a lot of things.

    I‘m sure I’m not alone in that Final Fantasy VII is absolutely one of those games for me. As a kid I had a Mega Drive, and I liked to play Streets of Rage, Sonic, etc. but only in short bursts. Games were just another one of my toys. In early 2001, I was talking with a school buddy about swapping games and he wanted to swap FFVII as he was stuck on a boss (the undead boss in Cosmo Canyon) and I loaned him Rollcage. I had a sort of weird perception of FFVII, I think I had seen a screenshot of the Gold Saucer desert in a magazine and it looked terrible, in my mind that was FFVII… just some ugly, blocky sprite standing in a desert. Once I started playing, everything just clicked for me. I probably clocked in 5 or 6 hours just that evening, then in school I would be talking to my buddy about my progress.

    Within a week or so, I beat the boss he was stuck on and reported back to him how I did it.

    “Oh right, I'm gonna need that game back.” he says.

    So I beg my mum that evening and we head out to the shops to buy the “platinum” edition of FF7 and I give him back his copy. What follows was a few weeks where he and I were playing the game at an almost miraculously identical pace, every day discussing the events of the night before (he named his Cid after me because I used to curse a lot - I was 11 after all). I can‘t imagine I will ever have such an involved experience with a game ever again, it was just a perfect storm. One night I was in the City of the Ancients, I hit the save point just before heading inside and mum is telling me I need to go to bed. The next day I go into class, my buddy’s first words: “Aeris died.”. I don‘t think I cared about spoilers back then but in retrospect that was a dick move! Anyway I get home and within 10 minutes Aeris dies, and, friends, I don’t mind telling you that I cried a whole lot.

    Since then, games have been my number one recreational activity. It‘s shaped pretty much every aspect of my life since then. I can’t even imagine how different I would be now if I hadn't played it. I feel like I eventually would have jumped aboard anyway, but who knows?

    This is a real interesting topic to think about!

    One candidate I have to mention would be _AD&D: Heroes Of The Lance_. This is one of the first computer games I played _at home_, and one of the first RPGs, and I would have to say it had a transformative impact on me in that it made me realise that cool, interesting game experiences can be had at home. There are other games I played before this, but for whatever reason this sticks out in my memory as a turning point.

    Another would be _Wipeout 3_. Specifically the Special Edition release, which is the one that I had and played. This is the game that truely made me realise that games can be a competitive endeavour, and that I could be _good_ at them.

    (I am now old and am no longer able to be good at games)

    For me it‘d have to be Sonic Adventure 2. It’s the game that got me into games.

    By the time I got a Sega Genesis of my own as a kid all the major Sonic games had already come out and I never got a Saturn /N64/PS1. So while all my friends were playing Mario 64 and Crash Bandicoot I was on my 103rd play through of S3&K. So yeah, new games weren't really a thing for me.

    I got the Dreamcast shortly after it launched, however. It was the first thing I ever bought with my own money. I played the heck out of Sonic Adventure and right around that time I was getting into browsing the internet and looking at vids of early marketing and development stuff for Sonic Adventure and found it pretty interesting.

    So then Sonic Adventure 2 gets announced and I followed the development from day one. It was the first game that I ever did that for and I downloaded any picture or video I would come across. The hype was very real for me and in the weeks leading up to the release I watched the blurry RealPlayer video of the city escape demo I downloaded dozens of times, plotting my own route through the city. And the day the game came out was the only time in my life I think I played a single video game from morning to night, non stop. My siblings and I just sat in front of the TV passing the controller around literally all day. It was incredible.

    Not to mention, I was 13 when the game came out which is a very formative time in anyone's life. I was discovering music in a big way and the soundtrack for that game had a huge impact on me. I'll say that everything from the music to the visual style is deeply ingrained in me and still influences my creative tastes to this day.

    @“treefroggy”#p42686 The manuals for Red/Blue and Gold/Silver were huge for me too. I used to keep them in my gameboy case and re-read them endlessly in the car when I was out of batteries. Pokemon was the first video game I was truly obsessed with. I recieved Pokemon Blue from my parents at my 8th birthday, and I had no idea wtf Pokemon even was. It wasn‘t until the TCG and it blowing up at school that I got fully sucked in. My copy of Blue, still has it’s original save on it, if the battery hasn't died, with a legit set of the first 151 Pokemons. I spent so much time with first 3 generations of Pokemon games. Here’s my original strategy guide, that I also obsessively read through a million times.

    [upl-image-preview url=//]

    The other game that hugely impacted me was Half Life 2. I was barely 13 when it came out, and one of my good friends had an older brother who had built him a custom gaming PC for the release. 4 of us crowded around that PC on midnight of the release of HL2 and took turns playing through the opening chapters of the game. I recall being absolutely blown away by the graphics and the character models (lol). I had never seen a game that looked like it, nor felt like it. Interacting with the combine soldiers was creepy and intriguing. The writing and characters felt "real" to me at the time. I went home and told my parents that I was spending some of my savings on a graphics card for the PC they had bought me in 2001. I spent a few weekends going to CompUSA and Circuit City looking at graphics cards before my dad let me take one home.
    IIRC I got a Radeon 9550, and it ran HL2 beautifully. I got obsessed with computers at that point, and it put on my current path. I didn't have a gaming PC from 2016-2020, and when HL:Alyx got announced, I made the decision to jump back in to PC gaming. I built a VR capable PC right before COVID hit, and then ended up building a small HTPC/emulation box for the living room early this year.

    @“fetus8”#p42792 I had my copy of that same manual, with my name written in pencil under slowbro form when I was 6 and learning to write my name. It was one of the oldest possessions I‘d managed to hold onto my entire life… Until last year, when I tried to mail it to my grandmother’s house to make room in my van, and it was stolen in the mail, and replaced with a box of coat hangers. still hurts to think about, that was all my precious family keepsakes and stuff of deepest sentimental value, including a book, hand-drawn and hand-written, hand-bound by my father when I was an infant. Now the only records of my childhood are what I‘d uploaded to facebook in the late 00’s.