Since Bill totally called me out in his awesome “gaming tree” post from earlier today, I decided to do my very own gaming tree, drawing on my roots and branches (yay, tree metaphor!), by counting the platforms and games that have shaped me as a gamer.
Without further ado, here is my complete gaming tree, listing all my major influences from the beginning until modern times. This is pretty extensive, so if you want the “TL, DR” version, here are the real defining characteristics: I’m very into escapism (via story and game worlds), unique characters/situations/stories, puzzles and platformers, and colorful, interesting art direction. I also grew up with so much Nintendo that I even had the Mario bedsheets. Yes, the bedsheets.
I was a wee lass when I first got my NES. My early days (starting at age 5) were filled with platformers and other side-scrolling goodness.
My very first handheld system, in what would be a lifetime of playing games on tiny screens. Here we see even more nascent platforming, and my first addiction to a puzzler.
This is where things start to become concrete – my love of platforming was cemented, and my very first steps into the RPG world happened in this era. I also started to become aware of aesthetics – Donkey Kong Country became a favorite for me not just for its graphics and action, but for the whole look and feel (and sound) of the experience. As a kid of the 90s, I was also totally into the cheesy Mortal Kombat games.
The Nintendo 64 still remains one of my all-time favorite game systems, mainly because it suited my tastes so well: it offered me a steady diet of platformers, my first (incredibly enjoyable) steps into the FPS world, tons of excellent multiplayer games (Mario Kart and Goldeneye were the Junior High hotness), and my very first Zelda game, a series that would come to be one of my all-time favorites.
This is the era where I went from Nintendo loyalist to multiplatform-loving gal. As with all Nintendo systems, my favorite games were first (and third) party titles that oozed atmosphere and adventure, like the phenomenal Metroid Prime.
I consider this the “practice” system for my DS.
The Dreamcast’s collection of eclectic, awesome, colorful experiences was a huge influence on the gamer I am today. These titles represent the first time I ever felt like I was in a living, breathing, stylized city (Shenmue, Crazy Taxi, Jet Grind), and something about that really, truly “clicked” with me. I also loved just how colorful and unique these games looked and felt – from Chu Chu and Space Channel and Jet Grind’s super-stylized cartoony look to the wide-open RPG world of Skies of Arcadia. A great deal of my actual professional aspirations in graphic design and new media production are rooted in this era.
At first, I was obsessed with puzzle games on my DS. Soon, though, I started to get into the more creative stuff, with the recent DIY and Scribblenauts, which have informed some of my own game design aspirations.
I was a very late bloomer on the PS2, but by the time I had my paws on one, the library was filled with the best, most creative stuff the system had to offer. Psychonauts remains one of my favorite games of all time.
In my more recent favorite games, it’s apparent that storytelling, game world, and aesthetics are at the top of my list when considering the titles that really have the most impact on me. Also, I obviously love certain studios, which speaks to the whole “expressive games” idea that was noted once in a Double Fine Interview.
The LittleBigPlanet series has had tremendous impact on me – creatively, professionally, and as a proverbial student of game design. Heavy Rain makes the list because I can’t shake the power of those later scenes… if someone comes around and does this sort of game “right”; I’ll be all over it.
I’m just beginning to dive into strategy games and indie productions (when said titles come to Steamplay, that is). I also enjoyed a good game of Rise of Nations back in my college days.
There you have it, folks – my gaming tree.