Do you remember your first video game? How about your first favorite video game?
Not all games are created equally, but there was that one game that makes you say, “This is it.”
That game is a key trigger in shaping you into who you are right now.
Now, I asked a lot of video game influencers from various gaming websites—editors, writers, contributors, staff, you name it—what was their first favorite games.
The game that made them feels great, challenged, or even inspired.
The one that started it all.
So here are some of the stories they shared, so we can reflect back to our childhood and relive our first moments.
“For me, it was Crash Bandicoot: Warped (played it on my original PlayStation!). It made me interested in the previous series and I remember I completed 100% not only all the three original games but also Crash Team Racing.
Just like other 90s kids, I used to play it after school for every day, and whenever I got stuck in a level, I would ask my older brother to help me finish it. He was more into gaming than I was at that time, so he kinda can play any games at any difficulty.
I had no internet connection back in the days (I live in Southeast Asia), so I used guides provided in video game magazines to help me complete the games easily. Although, I must say, Crash Bandicoot games are simple but some levels are just frustrating.”
Niero Gonzalez, Destructoid
“The first game that I fell in love with was Pong. I had never seen a video game. This was the early 80s in Cuba at a tiny arcade near Varadero Beach.
The adults wouldn’t let me near the machine. They were shouting and going nuts over it. It didn’t even occur to me that video games could be for kids until I floated over to America.
My cousin had Missile Command on his Atari but the game that really freaked me out was Adventure. I thought “Wow, this is possible?!”and I’ve bought every game console since.
Naturally, I went on to work in the games industry as no other line of work would do. I founded Destructoid in 2006 and now am part of the Enthusiast Gaming network as content director, where we own and help publish 70 other sites. Thanks, Pong!”
Sammy Barker, Push Square
“My favourite game is Shenmue. I remember owning an issue of EDGE magazine which included a single screenshot of Ryo Hazuki looking at an overhead plane, and I knew from that moment that I simply had to own a Dreamcast for this game.
In hindsight the title’s inconsistent and unwieldy, but it proved to me that video games can be more than merely stomping on green shells. While the voice acting is largely atrocious, the way the release rigidly sticks to its goal of creating a believable Japanese setting is superb, and I love it for that.
I recently replayed both games in the series on the PlayStation 4 as part of SEGA’s remaster compilation, and I still find them endearing all these years later. There’s nothing quite like Shenmue, and I’m not sure it’ll ever be topped, because for me it’s the title that made me love games.”
Keri Honea, PlayStation Lifestyle
“I had an NES growing up, but I was terrible at playing the games, so I spent most of my time watching others and making maps, developing strategies, etc. for my friends.
I didn’t really touch games again until a friend introduced me to Kingdom Hearts on the PlayStation 2.
My first playthrough of that game was not pretty, but it’s what started me down the path of really being a gamer and not an avid game watcher.”
Adnan Riaz, Hardcore Gamer
“I have fond memories of my time with the Metal Gear Solid franchise, especially as it kick-started my interest in gaming. Sure, I was very young when my brother played through Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation, but I watched him take Solid Snake through Shadow Moses like a bona fide action movie.
I knew that Hideo Kojima had created something special, a title that would transform the landscape of the gaming industry. More importantly, though, I knew that it had changed my life.
Ever since that experience, I’ve followed the Japanese developer’s work closely and watched him become the Stanley Kubrick of the gaming industry. Through the wonderful art direction of Yoji Shinkawa, MGS1 had the most incredible cast of characters. From the flamboyant Revolver Ocelot to the spiritual shaman Vulcan Raven, almost every Foxhound member made for a memorable boss fight. (Sorry, Decoy Octopus, it wasn’t meant to be!)
I’ve shared Snake’s story every step of the way since, and it was a potent moment when I was able to see his final story unfold in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots with my brother. We specifically played it together and we were left in awe by Kojima’s direction on the story.
Even now, I can only look back with the best of memories on MGS1. It was a major inspiration for me, tapping into my love for films and growing my interest in gaming, history and politics. Without any hesitation–I wouldn’t say this so lightly—MGS1 is a masterpiece from start to finish.”
Jacob Bukacek, Hardcore Gamer
“My first favorite game, the one that introduced me video games in general, was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I was five or six years old at the time, so I actually got my first taste of it by watching my dad play it all the way through. That actually would have been the end of it since it looked hard and the other games we had were kind of scary.
However, my younger brother decided to give it a go, and I didn’t want to be outdone by him. So I quickly started playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past too, beat it shortly after my brother did, and that pretty much defined my interests moving forward. I’ve been a gamer for over twenty years now, and discussing video games is probably my favorite thing to do.
I’m not entirely sure what it was about The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past that appealed to me back when I was a kid; if I had to choose any one thing though, I’d say it was the sense of adventure it provided. Rooting out secrets throughout Hyrule, solving puzzles, and defeating evil monsters must have had a certain magic to it, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have latched onto video games like I have.”
John Papadopoulos, DSOGaming
“My first favourite game was WWF Superstars at the arcades. I was only 7 when it came out and as a child I was a huge fan of wrestling. I was really blown away the moment I saw that game. It was a dream come true to actually choose some of my favourite wrestlers—like Hulk Hogan or Big Boss Man—and fight other wrestlers.
Each and every afternoon, right after finishing my homework, I was heading over at the arcades and spending all of my money on that machine. That was the moment that made me love videogames. It was something really magical and no; I wouldn’t trade those afternoons at the arcades with anything in the world.
Arcade games, in general, always amazed me with their incredible visuals. It’s really such a shame that newer generations cannot experience the “wow” factor of the arcades. Back in the 90s, arcades were almost two generations ahead of all home consoles and PCs.
After WWF Superstars came WWF WrestleFest, Art of Fighting, Mortal Kombat, Super Sidekicks, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs… and the rest is history.”
Jack Allin, Adventure Gamers
“Over the years I’ve had all kinds of “first loves” in gaming. I first fell for Nintendo’s charming worlds and immersive gameplay of Mario and Zelda, as well as the epic stories and addictive combat of JRPGs.
When I began gaming on PC, it was the realtime strategy game Age of Empires that had me staying up through the night to play “just one more” map.
Shooters thrill me for their visceral, intense experiences – I can still quote Duke Nukem one-liners even though I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast, and I keep waiting like everyone else for the mythical next installment of Half-Life – while adventure games like the classic Grim Fandango offer a welcome change of pace and a more cerebral approach and a few laughs. (Oh, and I even made a trilogy of free Christmas Quest games, each created in about a month with my staff at Adventure Gamers.)
Ultimately what I prefer is some variety, both in terms of different types of games, and within a game itself: a mix of action, tactics, exploration and even puzzle-solving. I count franchises like Tomb Raider and Prince of Persia among my favourites, and to this day, I still swear that The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is the best game of all time. Yes, even better than Christmas Quest, as hard as that is to believe.”
Caio Sampaio, KeenGamer
“My first favorite game was F.E.A.R.: First Encounter Assault Recon. I had always loved the art of storytelling, but I used to see it as something passive. This changed when I played F.E.A.R.. It was the first narrative-driven game I ever played and my mind was blown away by the fact that I could control a character in a story. F.E.A.R. made me fall in love with video game storytelling.
F.E.A.R. is also a special game because it made me start my career as a games journalist. I only started playing this game due to a comedy video I watched about it. It turned out that the guy who made the video also worked for a gaming website. I contacted him looking for an opportunity. He introduced me to the owner and I got my first chance.
Fast forward to 2018, I am in Europe taking a master’s degree to study video game storytelling and it all started with an innocent video I watched on YouTube about a game called F.E.A.R.. Playing this game triggered a chain reaction of events that led me to where I am today.”
David Lozada, KeenGamer
“Spyro the Dragon was the first game I ever played and the title that made me fall in love with the medium.
I couldn’t wait to come home from school every day and play for the two or three hours my parents allowed. To be frank, I had little idea of how the industry operated and was much more concerned with collecting as many gems as I could find.
As someone who never really felt like I belonged in school, video games were something that made me feel like a kid. It was an outlet I poured myself into when I had few friends in real life. Today, the fire-breathing mascot is spurring me to approach video games with a creative mindset again. As an adult, I’ve learned how easy it is to succumb to the monotony of a typical workweek.
While it’s always important to be aware of this aspect of our lives, it’s just as important to reserve enough time to be a kid again. We only have one life. We might as well have fun with it.”
Lindsay Schubert, KeenGamer
“I have a long list of games that have changed my life. Mario Party 2 earns the title as my all-time favorite video game because it was the first instance I could play a game endlessly without growing bored.
I was always able to enjoy the game and its multiple layers whether by myself or with others. And I kept playing because of my amusement with the costumes for each board, always bringing a smile to my face. The boards themselves possess unique features bringing them to life. The consensual most popular feature of the Mario Party series, the minigames are better structured than its predecessor.
We can see in this game a better direction from Hudson and Nintendo that led them to the common structure for the following games. Personally, when I was eight and first introduced to this game, I was a fanatic and continually attempted to play it with friends and family. Every time I play it, I still experience those nostalgic feelings I first cherished when I was only eight. I was innocent and didn’t know Mario along with all its series and spin-off series would change my life even as my 23 year-old self.”
Luan Erasmus, KeenGamer
“My first taste in obsessive gaming was with Super Mario Bros. on SNES, but I only became a serious gamer in the mid 90’s when my dad would bring his Pentium 1 work computer home on weekends for me to play on.
The game that drew me into PC gaming was Command and Conquer: Red Alert. I don’t dare count the number of hours I lost in that game but I remember playing it so much that I would frequently dream of accomplishing the missions.
I didn’t have access to the Internet back then, and online gaming wasn’t a mainstream activity yet so I played the single player campaigns over and over again. I still prefer single player campaigns over competitive online play, and Red Alert was the start of it all for me.
Looking back, there are few games that brought me the satisfaction Red Alert did.”
Nick Banks, KeenGamer
“In all my years playing videogames, it’s very difficult to honestly say which game was the one that made me fall in love with the medium.
My first ever game was called Drakan, developed by a now defunct studio called Psygnosis. They typically made arcade racers but Drakan was ahead of its time. It released in 1999 and was all about teaming up with a talking dragon to fight the scourge of the orcs.
For a game of that time to allow players to hop on and off the dragon and fly across open worlds with plenty to discover – it was a big deal. One a hell of a first entry in my gaming career. If anything needs a remaster, it’s Drakan! It was the game that really got me hooked into the industry and taught me what it was capable of.
The game that could really hold a torch to Drakan was Shadow of The Colossus. A masterpiece of story telling with barely any script writing and a premise nothing short of captivating.”
Mylène Lourdel, The Game Bakers
“If I have to choose one game, it would be Duck Hunt. It’s not my favorite, it’s not the best one, but it’s the one which shows me what video games are.
I mean, with Duck Hunt, I learned that video games are a great opportunity to live amazing moments with your friends and family. I also learned that yes, you can cheat (and put your gun on the TV), but that’s not the point, because it’s not fun then and fun is so important when you are playing (not for all games btw, but for Duck Hunt, it is).
After Duck Hunt, I wanted to play more, to discover new games, and that’s was the beginning of a new passion that I still have!”
David Kaniuk, Nerd Bacon
“From the moment I first picked up a controller, I had always liked video games. I was fortunate enough to be able to begin cutting my teeth on NES classics like Top Gun, Punch Out, and of course, the Mario series; but it may not have been until the release of Star Fox on the SNES that I actually fell in love with them.
Star Fox felt like this impossibly huge, epic space opera, and as a young boy who was obsessed with aviation at the time, the idea of flying these ultra-sleek space fighters through the galaxy was just mind-blowing. I loved how the difficulty structure was set up as different paths and experiences that could be taken as you journeyed on your way towards the ultimate goal of Venom.
I also really appreciated the attempt at a more orchestral soundtrack, which for me heightened the entire experience into something that was somewhat cinematic – even artistic.
While I had played many games prior to Star Fox, once I experienced it I knew that I’d be playing games forever.”
Matthew Owen, Super Gamecast 64
“Although I was first introduced to video games at the young age of 2, my true love for gaming didn’t kick in until a few years later. In my early schooling days, I would often spend hours playing NES and Sega Genesis with my friends and brothers.
It was incredibly exciting to experience a wide variety of games in this bustling new medium. It intrigued me on a creative and intellectual level, and even then, I knew video gaming was going to be a life-long passion.
The first game that really reinforced my love for gaming was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for Nintendo 64. When it first released in 1998, I loved every minute of it. Now, nearly 20 years later, I still enjoy playing through the game every few years. It’s an objectively well-crafted game, and looking back, it was way ahead of its time. The game offered a beautiful and interesting world to explore, but it didn’t restrict the player. Sure, the main quest of saving Princess Zelda is extraordinary and incredibly well made, but I often found myself simply roaming the map.
Through and through, Ocarina of Time sparked my existing love for video games and made it stronger. The inventive puzzles forced me to think in new ways, and the challenging gameplay made me feel accomplished and experienced.
Without Ocarina of Time, I’d still love video games. However, I might not have the burning nostalgia or love for the medium that carries me through the work day. When all is said and done, writing about games is still work. However, it’s games like Ocarina of Time that remind me why I got into the industry, and why video games are the best medium in modern entertainment.”
CC Jacobs, Gamer Sensei
“My first favorite video game had to be Pokemon Red Version on the original Game Boy. I remember the box art opening it on Christmas Day in 1998. I was 7 years old at the time and I remember spending what felt like an eternity walking around in Viridian forest looking for a Pikachu.
After finally catching one, the battery on my Game Boy died before I was able to figure out how to save the game and my world was shattered. Despite this setback, my Pokemon journey continued and I have been a fan of the franchise ever since, playing through every generation released all the way through Sun and Moon.
Sun and Moon occupies a special place in my heart as it is based on the “Alola region” which is reminiscent of the Hawaiian islands. My brother and I went to college and lived in Hawaii for 5+ years so it was really exciting to see the franchise merge with another world that we knew so well.
While I can’t agree with many of the newer species of Pokemon that are being created over at Nintendo these days, I am thankful for the 20+ years of joy that Pokemon has brought me over the years and it will always take me back to Christmas Day 1998; Choosing Charmander as my starter and wandering around the tall grass of route 1 catching my first Pidgey.”
Albert Bassili, Pause Resume
“For me it was really three games that cemented my love of games.
First was the 1992 Dune II RTS game. While I had played lots of other games, this was the first one that required strategy and made me realize that games can be more than just idle entertainment.
Second was Metal Gear Solid. Aside from the great story with heart-wrenching moments, it also showed me that games can have really wonderful and great mechanics that feed into the story (no Psychomantis, I don’t want you to read my memory card!). That game really thought outside the box.
What really made me love games though, was Final Fantasy X. It had amazing characters, graphics, music, and a story that really hit home. It really made me appreciate games as a storytelling medium and ultimately made me want to be a writer within the games industry.”
Gareth Torrance, 16-Bit Dad
“My first favourite is actually the game that has remained my favourite ever since; Koudelka for the original PlayStation. There were games I enjoyed a lot before playing it, since I started gaming with the Sega MegaDrive, but there isn’t a game that connected with me enough to called it a “favourite” before Koudelka.
I found that game when I was first getting into horror games, and already loved RPGs, so finding a game that mixed them both was awesome.
On top of that, the fact that it was the first game I’ve ever known to be set in Wales (where my family comes from) struck a chord with me as well.
However, the game wasn’t well promoted and didn’t get that much attention. Because of that, not only did none of my friends ever have a copy, but there weren’t really any guides that you could buy. This meant that the first time I played the game, I missed a very specific item. Normally that wouldn’t be an issue in a game, but without this item, the final boss of Koudelka kills you in a cutscene before the boss!
It was at that moment that I realised Koudelka was my favourite game. Why? Because, rather than giving up and getting angry about having to start again, I was more than happy to go through the entire game again… And I have done many times since then.”
John Santina, Grown Gaming
“My first favourite game was Sonic the Hedgehog 2. My first ever console was an Atari 2600 Jr. but it wasn’t until I unwrapped my Sega Master System 2 on Christmas circa 2004 (we weren’t the richest) that I fell in love with video games thanks to that blue hedgehog.
My TV at the time was a black and white monstrosity with knobs for the brightness, contrast and the volume (it has one knob that I’d have to pop out and plug into the different holes to use – again, we were poor) but Sonic’s attitude and crazy speed were a lightyear away from the Atari games I had been playing. A few years later I was given a second-hand colour TV and it absolutely blew my mind that Sonic had been in colour the whole time! It was like having a whole new game to play!
I didn’t ever finish Sonic 2 but I still cherished my time with it. I even rebought a Master System 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to play with my daughter but all she wants to play is a cooking game on her Kindle. Kids, eh?”
Victor Marland, Ten Pence Arcade
“First favourite videogame, hmm?
That’s a REALLY easy one. It has to be Space Invaders. I’m talking about the 1978 black and white graphics classic from Taito, created by the genius Tomohiro Nishikado.
This game, in it’s original upright arcade cabinet form was everywhere when I was a kid. I even saw it in cafes and working men’s clubs when I was brought in by parents – but in these locations incased in a table machine, usually adorned with various drinks glasses and opened packets of crisps and nuts obscuring the screen. If you are too young to know Space Invaders of have been living on another planet other than Earth for the last 40 years, let me explain the concept.
It’s simple – shoot invaders as they descend down the screen! Easy!
I first saw the upright cabinet, right next to a Space Invaders pinball with a scary alien invader on the back glass in a roadside cafe in the Midlands, UK when I was 7 years old (we’re talking 1980). The BUMP BUMP sounds and the tinny PEW PEW sounds drew me in. Being quite tall, even as a kid, I could peer into the cabinet’s magical window to watch the invaders on their endless march towards earth.
After my first play, I was hooked! Using the joystick and a fire button came naturally to me and because the game was so simple, it didn’t need any further instructions than watching the game play in attract mode.
So profound was Space Invaders for me, I had to have a console for Christmas so I could play at home.
Guess what was the first game I got for it? You got it, a version of Invaders.
I now have about 14 arcade machines in my collection and have owned over 40 through my years of collecting. You could say it had a bit of an effect on me…”
Lemonsmith, Hey You Video Game!
“The first video game that turned me into a gamer was Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64. Twenty years later, and I can still feel what it was like to start that game. The story, the music, the gameplay truly blew me away.
I didn’t know that a video game could draw me into the narrative until this game. I remember playing the game with my younger brother watching at my side. He would give tips, make suggestions, and cheer me on. There’s a part in the game where you free a horse, Epona, from the ranch by jumping over the wall. We both literally jumped in excitement during the cutscene.
It is a memorable gaming moment in my life. Since Ocarina of Time I fell in love with gaming, and my passion for this hobby has only grown.”
Amie Botes, Nochgames
“So I have been playing games since I was a little kid, that was in the early 90’s. But the game that got me hooked and probably made me a gamer was Need For Speed Hot Pursuit III.
The reason I loved it so much was that at the time it was super hard as I haven’t played anything like it before. It was also not my PC, but my cousin’s, so I didn’t have a lot of time to play. Every time I visited him, I will sit for hours playing games and finally! I won my first race on the hardest difficulty, which felt like I’d won a Formula 1 race.
Since then I loved playing games and challenging myself, whether it was racing games, strategy games, open world games or any other interesting ones I could find.”
Sandro Luketic, Pixel Opinions
“It was Christmas 1990-something. I got my first home console, the Super Nintendo, earlier that year. As a child with no disposable income, I only had the copy of Super Mario World that was packaged in with the system to play. A great game but I needed something new.
Christmas meant gifts, so I had hope. That is until presents started to appear under the tree and the big one with my name on it was just that, big. Video games are much smaller I told myself. I shook the box and it felt like a soccer ball. Finally the big morning hit and I opened the box.
My parents had wrapped newspaper into a ball to throw me off. In the center was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I had no idea that it came out and honestly I had never played the other games in the series but it was a video game and that’s what I wanted.
Having only really played 2D platformers, I was blown away by my first steps in Link’s shoes. The depth, world exploration and need for a battery backup in order to save progress blew my mind. From then on, I was a gamer and to this day that Hyrule adventure remains one of my favorites.”
El Jeffe, Joystick Journey
“It was a cold Christmas when I was 6 years old and I was ecstatic to see all of the presents around the tree. I don’t remember what I unwrapped earlier, but that’s because nothing compared to my final gift. One that was hidden behind our water heater and was as tall as I was.
Ripping open the wrapping paper the words Super Nintendo sprawled across the box. I didn’t know what it was but that it was a big toy that connected to the television. Looking back at the gift, this wasn’t just a gift for me but for my dad as well.
While the system came with Super Mario World, my dad also bought himself some sports games as well. I wasn’t really into sports as a kid, but I loved playing video games with my Dad. We cheered as we beat Bowser for the first time in Super Mario World. Celebrated when finding exploits in the sports games that gave us perfect scores in bowling and touchdown winning plays.
All of these were fond memories we shared growing up and one day I hope to have similar experiences with my future children.”
Limarc Ambalina, GameVersusGame
“The game that changed my life and got me started on the path to becoming a writer was Final Fantasy 8.
On the original PlayStation, Square Enix tried to move away from the blocky 3D graphics of Final Fantasy 7. They tried to design characters in realistic bodily proportions and with pre-rendered backrounds. Thus, the game was surely groundbreaking for its time in terms of visual and graphical design.
But what truly captivated me was its story. People rag on Final Fantasy 8 for having a cliche memory loss JRPG story, but it’s so much more than that. The romance between Squall and Rinoa remains one of my favorite romance stories across any medium and the tricky utilization of time travel brought a complicated story together beautifully. Without Final Fantasy 8, maybe I wouldn’t be a writer today.”
“I have played so many video game titles since PlayStation 1 era, but the video game that made a lot of impacts and becomes my favorite of all-time is Genso Suikoden II.
Back then, I was still around 4th or 5th grader, and I still don’t understand a lot of how to play traditional JRPG games, even more, I still don’t understand English that much. But nevertheless, the game is really easy for me to get into and back then I was really into the game by the understandable yet memorable storyline, nice colorful graphics, and the music really blend into the game.
Even after the release of another next-gen RPG which has better graphics and gameplay in the recent year, I’m still really impressed with the content the game provides, and the game also makes me enter other worlds of RPG such as Chrono Cross, Xenogears, and Final Fantasy which are also really good in its own term. The fact is, I probably appreciate the game, even more, after I played it again recently and it yet still remains my favorite game of all time, followed by Xenogears.”
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I bet you remember your first favorite game.
And I want you to share your own story in the comment section below.
Let us relive our first moments!