Why We Love Games «

Why We Love Games

Valentine’s Day is all about love. This year, we figured you’ve probably seen enough nearly identical “Top 10 Games to Play With Your Girlfriend” pieces across the web (ProTip: Try Bubble Bobble), so we’ve decided instead to step back and look at a different kind of love altogether — our love for games. What we realized is that what makes us love this crazy hobby has more to do with specific details, not big experiences. We’ve put together a tribute to some of the most memorable moments we’ve ever experienced in games — not necessarily the big set-pieces that were carefully calculated to make an impression, but rather the little things that have stuck with us through the years. On consoles, PCs, arcade machines, and portables, these are the artful, loving incidentals and twists that have turned us into the fans we are. Some are profound, some are utterly trivial, but each one resonated with us.

Keep in mind, this isn’t some comprehensive list of gaming’s greatest moments; it’s simply a reflection on our personal favorites. Everyone has their own, and everyone’s are different — so please, share yours!

Metal Gear | Konami, 1987
Metal Gear began on 8-bit systems, with graphics abstract enough that a soldier sneaking around in a cardboard box seemed reasonable. Years later, the games took on a more realistic tone. Yet hard-boiled hero Snake still crept around in boxes; this became a symbol of his (and the series’) underlying eccentricity.

Half-Life | Valve/Sierra, 1998
After suffering continual harassment from an aggravating helicopter that’s impervious to your feeble MP5 for a good half-hour, relief comes at last when you stumble upon a supply cache containing a laser-guided, rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Moments after you pick it up, the helicopter returns; what follows is one of the most satisfying moments in shooter history.

Command & Conquer: Red Alert | Westwood, 1996
Red Alert’s intro was anything but well-made. Despite lacking the production values of even the lowest-rated daytime soap operas, this two-minute vignette set the tone for the series. Over the course of a matter of minutes Einstein travels time and space to kill a young Adolf Hitler. After returning to the “present” the only words he has are, “Time will tell.” The scene set up the “kind of dumb but still awesome” tone seen in the rest of the game.

EarthBound | APE/HAL/Nintendo, 1995
Earthbound’s Dusty Dunes Desert contains countless grains of sand, as well as two pixel-sized characters whose love is purer than the driven snow. Players who stumble upon the game’s black and white sesame seeds amid the sprawling dunes (not an easy task) can hear their respective stories of star-crossed love, even if reuniting the two proves impossible.

Dark Souls | From/Namco, 2011
The world of Dark Souls is a veritable perdition to which your character has been banished for an unknown (but undoubtedly heinous) crime. With death awaiting at every turn, your only solace comes in the form of resting your weary head at the base of a kindled bonfire. The warmth from the flames serves a greater purpose than its obvious role as a checkpoint; it provides momentary comfort in an otherwise abysmal world.

Psychonauts | Double Fine/Majesco, 1995
In most games, beat a boss or finish a level and your character sits there, or maybe smiles at the camera. In Psychonauts, super boy Raz does silly dance steps and squeezes a tune that sounds like a smirk mixed with a gloat out the side of his cheek. Apart from being a tune that’s impossible to get out of your head, it feels like something a human would do, rather than something a video game would.

Silent Hill 2 | Konami, 2001
Near the close of a tumultuous journey through the bizarre, sleepy town of Silent Hill, the painful revelation that uncovers the mystery of James’ dead wife and his role as her killer is an unforgettable moment. But the developers took this mature and taboo subject matter one step further by never explaining James’ real intentions. Did the seemingly faithful and loving husband euthanize his wife to help end her pain, or were more selfish reasons at play? It’s the first time the series toyed with an unreliable narrator, and the results of James’ true intentions remain fiercely debated to this day.