These five games shape my life [Column]

Games are an important segment in my life. From the first black and white games to the blockbuster titles we work with today. Today I’m going to take you through the beginning of that red thread. Where my love for gaming began and the journey of discovery I’ve taken thus far. These are five games that shaped my life as a gamer.

The beginning

Like almost every good story, we start from the beginning. I remember very well when I was little Sven on a camping trip in Luxembourg and the neighbor pressed a Game Boy Pocket into my hands: “Just try this” were the magic words. On the screen, I saw a little man jumping from platform to platform, sometimes bouncing his head against some kind of brick to grab an item that would make him bigger. This is, you can probably guess, about Super Mario World, my first real introduction to gaming. In fact, it was clear from that moment on that I have no aptitude for finishing games, as I have never seen the final screen of Super Mario World until today.

In the fall after that holiday, I bought a Game Boy Pocket and went to the dam gate. Hours, days and weeks were spent on my adventures in Pokémon Red, Kirby’s Dream Land and a Jungle Book game, with which a new love was born and I regularly had to “save up” before starting dinner. Especially the Pokemon games managed to grab me and still hold on to me. I really enjoy playing the latest Pokémon games and the Trading Card Game ‘glossy cardboards’ are now taking up too much space. Pokémon Go is still played regularly and one of my highlights in 2023 was visiting the Pokémon Europe International Championships. Also, I’m working with a friend on a Pixelmon adventure that we’ll be playing on an old LAN setup in the fall.

love for RPG

When I was about ten I switched to the Game Boy Advance. Well, I just got it for my birthday. I was introduced to the fantastic Wario Land 4, but more importantly, the first few Final Fantasy games took me into a whole new world. Final Fantasy I and II were a bundle and after finishing those two games it was Final Fantasy IV’s turn. The turn-based combat, the way of discovering everything on your own and really learning a lot of English, a new door opened for me. So it’s no wonder I really enjoyed Octopath Traveler 2 this year, because really, that game is an evolution of those early games I played as a kid.

The promise that Kingdom Hearts 3 would be released on PlayStation 3 made me naively buy that console.

After the GBA, a PS2 came into the house and everything went a step further. A TV was needed, shooters were bought, but the (J)RPG wouldn’t let me go. When I saw a game that looked like Final Fantasy and Donald and Goofy, I had to know what it was. It’s been almost 21 years since Kingdom Hearts was released in Europe, but I still play it almost every day. From an explainer video that made it to my Tiktok algorithm or listening to part of the soundtrack on LP or Spotify, it regularly appears. The promise that Kingdom Hearts 3 would be released on PlayStation 3 made me naively buy that console. In hindsight I can laugh a lot about it, and luckily enough bangers were released on the PlayStation 3 to justify this purchase.

One such stunners is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I once ventured into Morrowind and Oblivion, but I was too young to understand what those games were intended for. I really only knew a closed, linear world where you go from point A to point B. It wasn’t until I started playing Skyrim that the penny dropped to the open world. In principle, I could also have put Fallout 3 here, by the way, another open world game that I spent many hours on. Skyrim serves me a little better as a player. If I have to choose between a post-apocalyptic world or one with a fantasy setting, I always choose the latter. Skyrim really let me experiment. In my memory, this was actually the first time I actively tried to ‘crack’ a game. A failure with Conjuration magic actually made me immortal. Unfortunately, Skyrim also introduced me to the Bethesda phenomenon and the bugs that can be present. To this day I haven’t been able to perform my level 90 conjuration spell.

social games

Don’t be scared by a head like that. I’m not talking about the mobile games or garbage that once peaked on Facebook. I’m talking about games where you have to interact with teammates. Of course, I could often be found at a LAN party with friends, but there are games that show how beautiful or ugly online communities can be. My first encounter with it was League of Legends. Now I must say that you can start better in the online world – this is how much more pleasant my experience as a newcomer to Final Fantasy XIV was. League of Legends players are known for not being very friendly and mostly blaming others for their own shortcomings. I’ve now left Summoner’s Rift behind and can be found more often in the aforementioned FFXIV, but that doesn’t change the fact that LoL had a huge influence on me.

Because League goes beyond the game on your PC or mobile. There are spinoffs, an MMO, and more in development at Riot Games. Also, LoL showed me how cool official esports events can be. I’ll never forget the 10,000 people who went wild when Soaz got away with it against SKT or the trips to Cologne and Berlin with friends to watch some LEC (then LCS) games. League showed that a game is more than a game and flows into the real world.

Of course I could make this list much longer with titles that influence me a lot. It’s especially interesting that these games show why I’m enjoying games like Final Fantasy 16, Octopath Traveler 2 or FFXIV so much now and that I can’t finish some games because it’s just not in my way. Or was it because my first gaming experience never ended?