TRS-80 Tandy Color ComputerThere have been all sorts of influential people and moments in my life that have shaped me into the geek I am today. One Christmas, my father, then a district manager at Radio Shack, brought home a Tandy Color Computer. He unknowingly started me on a path he’s never quite come to understand, but three decades later, he’ll at least acknowledge my gaming with a smile. I suppose I could have followed one of my brother’s paths and become a computer programmer. I could throw down some sweet code back in the day, making my name flash in all four colours. But perhaps it was because my other brother–the one who taught me to read dinosaur books at age two and gave me his X-Men collection later on–was the more influential person in my life that I ended up focusing more on the games. Which, by the way, were on a tape cassette. I played Centipede, Galaga and the like. Then my dad brought home a cartridge, Pitfall, sealing my fate.

Super Mario Bros - NintendoAt school, I found every opportunity to get onto the Commodore-64 to pense the monkey in Below the Root, my very first role-playing game. Somewhere along the way, someone donated their Nintendo system, which is how I met the Mario Bros. and Zelda. When I started earning my own money, I followed Mario and Luigi to the Super Nintendo, and expanded into fighting games. Streetfighter came first, but it was Mortal Kombat that became my specialty. I had fun challenging guys in the arcades and being accused of only choosing the girl characters because I was a girl (actually, I chose them because I liked their speed and their wonderfully kicky legs), while my best friends kicked butt in Soul Calibur. Between the three of us, we had our Sega Genesis and Dreamcast, and discovered Darkstalkers and other similarly designed games to compliment our love of anime.

Final Fantasy VII - PlaystationThen came the PlayStation. Final Fantasy VII earned many accolades and is considered the game that sold the PlayStation system. For me, it was the first game where I truly became invested in the lore and the characters. I started to appreciate things like soundtracks and all the necessary elements that went into improving my characters to make them fight better. I bought my very first Brady Guide and learned every Enemy Skill. I mastered Materia, accessed all Limit Breaks, spent hours skilling up, and bred a Gold Chocobo to acquire the Knights of the Round summon. I was not hardcore enough to attempt the Ruby and Emerald Weapon fights, but I did at least get close enough to see them and then run away before they saw me.

Final Fantasy XI - NightxadePlaying Final Fantasy VII paved the way for all of the future Final Fantasy installments, including the massive multiplayer online (MMO) incarnation, Final Fantasy XI. My husband got me into this one, and neither of us believed I’d be around for long, which is why we shared an account on our PlayStation 2. It wasn’t until almost ten years later that I finally let my glorious elvaan Red Mage walk off into the sunset.

By then, there was a PlayStation 3 and a Wii in the house, but I only half-heartedly played around with a few other games. I tried out some more MMOs, but, while many have sparked my interest for various reasons, none will ever replace my first love. In fact, I keep telling myself that I’m not going to play anymore MMOs, but then some new shiny red ball comes out and I’m off grinding away again. I’m currently still playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, got suckered into the WildStar beta because it is oh so pretty, and occasionally visit Guild Wars 2 to see what’s new.

My gaming life truly changed in 2012 with a little something called Mass Effect. Some friends had been chatting about it on Google+ and their discussions about the characters intrigued me. Then I saw the trailer for Mass Effect 2 featuring Subject Zero and decided that I needed to play this game. Molly Shepard was born, signifying my first real venture into PC gaming, and my obsession with all things BioWare (even when they hurt my feelings). As much as I appreciate game play, I’m in this thing for the amazing stories and characters and BioWare games give me so much of that and more.

Mass Effect 2Since starting up on the PC, I developed an unhealthy relationship with Steam and now boast a wall of shame of 140 games, of which I have actually played only… you know what… I’m not even going to count. My PlayStation Plus account suffers a similar predicament, but I plan to play them all, I swear!

While non-gamers reading this might have gotten lost somewhere along the way in my little journey, gamers might recognize a thing or two, and even see places where our paths might have crossed. What games have shaped your gaming life?