Physical spaces and their impact on gaming

Inspired by a couple of great posts from @exodus and @robinhoodie in another thread…

Have your surroundings or circumstances ever influenced your video game playing in such a way as to make you feel that the stars have aligned in your favour (or not your favour)? Sometimes where you are, or a certain moment in time, can coincide so perfectly with the game you're playing that the experience cements itself in your mind as a full-body phenomenon.

A couple of examples.

1) When I was a teen, I got my wisdom teeth removed. Now that's a horrifying experience as it is, but in my case, the anesthesia... didn't totally work. I felt a lot more than I would have liked to feel.
Hours later, I was out of my mind on some very _effective_ painkillers, and playing that Resident Evil remake on the GameCube. The combination of recently-experienced body horror and not being quite in my right mind sure made that mansion come to life in a way the developers would have dug, let me tell you.

2) Also from teen times. I remember playing SSX Tricky on that very same GameCube, sitting in my uncle's basement where the air conditioner was right above the television. Now this was in the dead of summer, when air conditioning is most required. The sensation of trickin' down that mountain while the air conditioner blasted me full in the face was just perfect.

3) The week before my son was scheduled to be born. Every night, after my wife went to bed, I'd sit up for an hour or two, letting myself get fully absorbed in the nonsense that is Steins;Gate on my PSP. Something about the borderline-insanity of being on the verge of welcoming a child into the (scary and uncertain 2019) world, and thinking back on one's life choices made that game resound for me in a way it otherwise wouldn't have. It's set in the sweltering summer heat of 2010, which is exactly when I moved to Japan. Combined with the time travel plot, it just had my mind spinning in a way that felt therapeutic for me.

There are other examples, but let's hear yours!

Physical context is super important to enjoying anything and no matter what it makes you form very strong memories.

  • - The first time I played FF7, I played it on a folding chair in the middle of a hot summer. The “Reunion” track is burned in my brain partially from getting those last few levels in the North Cave in those swampy areas.
  • - I have traveled internationally a handful of times for work and I brought a 3DS with me. Etrian Odyssey and Outrun 3D make me think of airports and airplane seats and sitting in Shenzhen traffic.
  • - Arcades and tournaments exist to provide additional physical context to playing video games. I keep toying with building a cabinet to put my old consoles in so I can play _CvS2_ or _Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax_ in a more formal way, but I don't know where I'd put the damn thing.
  • Sense memory is a hell of a drug, man. Probably one of the best tools we have for remembering things. I have a relevant memory from childhood that involved Paper Mario TTYD:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3mvyrZS36A

    11(?)-year-old-me is chugging through the last dungeon, and I reach a specific part that's eerily empty. Just a bunch of sparse, unfurnished rooms with vague puzzles and ominous lore, with this track playing over it all.

    I'm in the basement, by myself. It's raining pretty heavily outside. I suddenly realize - I'm alone in the house.

    Spoiler alert, I wasn't, actually. But little-boy-me was quite unnerved.

    I mentioned one in the other thread about playing Attack of the Friday Monsters on 3DS while housesitting at my mom's, staying in what used to be my bedroom, taking care of the pets, etc. It was the right environment for the right game!

    I think handheld games are among the best experiences for this kind of thing, immersing yourself into a world while you're also in whatever human context you're in. The PSP will forever hold a place in my heart for affording me the opportunity to get through multiple RPGs while riding the train to work - it's not a specific memory, but that time in general is when I played the most RPGs probably ever, because I had an hour+ per day where there was nothing else I needed or wanted to do.

    Anyway, a couple more:
    I played a bunch of Earth Defense Force II on Vita while staying in poland, and the (in-game) hilly environments with a house here or there were much more reminiscent of Poland than they were of the America they were trying to depict, and it kind of just fit with the whole vibe of that trip.

    This one I may have mentioned in the podcast before, but I was riding the train with my DS, and a cool lady sat down next to me and opened up her DS, and was playing New Super Mario Bros, and I was like - oh! have you tried the multiplayer on that? we can do it without even needing a second cartridge I think!? And she hadn't, and I hadn't either, but we were both curious about it, so we followed the instructions, it worked (which in itself felt magical in 2006 or whenever), and we played some minigames together and had a real fun time, and then she was like well, this is my stop! and got out, and then looked through the window at me from outside and smiled and waved as the train went away and I was like... this is *exactly* a Nintendo DS commercial, good lord!!!

    when i was younger, my parents used to limit the amount of time i could spend playing video games at night after school, so what i ended up doing was going to sleep very early and waking up at 5-6am to play Gamecube games for 1-2 hours before i had to start getting ready for school at 7am. i convinced my parents to buy an alarm clock for explicitly this purpose! i played a lot of games this way, but the one that i remember most vividly isWind Waker

    there's a section where the entire world gets stuck in nighttime and it's perpetually raining. during this section, there's a part where you have to eavesdrop in order to learn a password to sneak onto a pirate ship to get a quest item. after this, you continue to just make your way surreptitiously around the Great Sea as the storm continues on. something about secretly playing this section at pitch-black 5am on a day where it was raining so much outside that the sound of the rain drowned out the game audio (which was already at a VERY low volume as to not alert my parents) has always stuck with me.

    I love how parental guideposts like this just cause you to get more creative. “Oh, I can‘t play games at night? Fine, I’ll play them in the morning!!”

    I don't know why I never got into playing game gear under the covers or something like that, since it had a back light and all. maybe because batteries were so expensive!!

    I‘ve always been really into outdoor setups, making forts as a kid with CRTs and consoles connected to my parent’s house via extension cable. Because being in the house with my adopted parents suuucked. Now that I have solar, getting out into nature with my CRT is just the best. Living off grid means I get to play games as much as I want and answer to no one. It also means all my consoles are technically portables now LOL.

    More in the line with you guys' comments,
    The best one is when I was a teen going through custody battle against my adopted parents, they took away everything I had, all my games, books, music, tv etc. I went to the local used CD store and got a Sega genesis model 1 with sega CD that came with sonic CD, earthworm jim and sonic 2 for only $20.
    I got really good at Sonic and Earthworm Jim. That's when I realized only having 1 retro console available at a time can be rewarding.

    I started bringing gameboys to school after the micro came out when I was in middle school. My long lost grandparents got me a mother 3 micro when I was 13, I was really lucky they went on ebay to get one, they were $300 at launch... It was small enough to hide under the desk and no teacher suspected a thing. Coincidentally, that's also when I started failing.
    When the DS came out we were all playing Bomberman 8 players on the bus, and mario kart ds. Any kid that rode the bus and had a DS probably had a similar experience. It was made for bus rides.
    By high school I had a hacked PSP and teachers just let me play through class usually. Many hours of emulators and Final Fantasy Tactics, Dissidia with the gang during lunch.

    I had a job at a resturaunt where I was the fastest dish washer because I would finish as quickly as possible to get back to playing ports of RPGs on my iphone 5. The ios port of FFV is actually pretty rad, btw. When the Bravely Default demo came out, I had my 3ds XL and would reach up to grind when I finished cleaning dishes. I maxed out all my job levels that way.

    When I first became homeless, I was powering through a lot of gameboy games. I 100%'d every wario land, metroid II, daedalian opus, and more. The wild ride of life is embellished by what games I have at any given moment.

    When Pokemon SS with the Pokewalker came out for DS I was dating someone I really really loved but she lived across town and I didn't have a car. So I spent many many hours walking back and forth from my place to hers while using the Pokewalker. Something about that experience is forever tied to that relationship

    @Jtwo#10728 Oh yeahhh I have some poke walker stories… At the time I was living in a two door honda with my father and was riding my bicycle 10 mi both ways to school. I would put the poke walker on my shoelaces and get maaaaad money that way. there was over 10 kids at my school who got HG/SS too, but I was big pimp on the block with all the magbys, dratinis, elekids, smoochums etc. It was surprising at the time how many kids in my high school had the game. I had a 500 hour save file when one of my roommates stole it and saved over it with a 20 minute file. I had so many pokes from my friends and past games from pal park. It's a metaphor for life, the stoicism of letting go.