Gaming can offer so many experiences. The joy of reaching a high score on the leader board. The anger of getting shot in the back. The competition between you and your best friend as you race around the track. It’s amazing just how many different emotions and feelings you get from one game and how different those emotions are from others who play that same game. This is why games are art: they connect us, on an emotional level that is hard to tap into on any other medium. With the ending of the current generation in sight (though not quite here yet) there’s been a lot of reflection on the best moments of this past 8 years in gaming. Here are a few of mine. Spoiler Alert for those who have yet to play Journey, The Last of Us and infamous 2.
Journeying with a Stranger:
crafted a masterpiece when they released Journey on PS3. From the
unfamiliar and beautiful aesthetic of the desert to your cute little
character that journeyed (ahhh, see what I did there?) across the
scorching sands towards the mountain in the distance, the game was
mesmerizing. However, the best part of Journey has to be the online
Without knowing anything, you stumble across a stranger
who looks exactly like you. There’s no name tag, no identifier as to
who this person is, and there’s no communication, aside from hitting the
O button to show your glyph, which is randomly given to you upon the
start of your Journey.
I stumbled into the game, clumsy and
unaware of the magic this online component would create. After reaching
the first level I caught a glimpse of another player jumping across the
sand dune landscape. I collided with the other player and flashed my
glyph at him/her and received a quick response before he/she darted off
to the edge of the map. Frustrated, I followed, flashing my glyph
frantically to get the attention of this fellow player, but I received
no response. He/she just kept going, continuing to the canyon wall. Just
as I was about to turn around and say ‘screw it’, the other player
disappeared behind a wall of sand. Curious, I followed and found him/her
waiting patiently next to a glowing glyph, the collectibles in the
game. I grabbed the glyph and flashed my own in thanks. My colleague
flashed his/hers and then darted out of the cavern.
together continued like this, with my fellow traveler darting off in
random directions and flashing his/her glyph to show me the way, me
following obediently. From level to level we hopped together, until we
reached the pinnacle of the game. Together we traveled, through sand and
snow until we fell, side by side, together.
To this day I still
don’t remember the name of the champion who helped me, but I am forever
grateful. I will never forget the magic of the two of us working hand in
hand, talking to each other and sharing a joyous experience without
uttering a single word to one another, at least not one we could hear
from one another. I often think back on that one game play session as
one of my most cherished (and constantly advocating as the reason for
why Journey would not work on Vita). Thank you fabled player, for your
help and I apologize for my stupidity.
Drinking Beers; Pulling the Trigger:
2 is full of so many great moments that I could probably populate this
list full of them. However, the moment that sticks out the most is the
final moment for the bad ending: the Duel. Zeke, Cole’s best friend in
the world who has been by your side (roughly) for two games has no
choice but to put his sights on him when Cole decides to sacrifice the
humans infected to help bring out the powers of all the special
After battling to stop the Beast; after a
beautiful moment sharing beers together while watching TV; after
fighting to the end, it comes down to Cole and Zeke. Not only is this a
powerful, emotional moment, but Sucker Punch decided to leave it
non-scripted, forcing you the player to make Cole kill Zeke. It’s heart
wrenching to do and that scene still resonates with me as one of the
most touching endings to a game in recent memory.
The Beginning of the End:
of gaming story points, nothing resonates more on an emotional level
than the beginning of The Last of Us. The world is falling apart and
Joel is trying to get his little girl to safety. Instead of controlling
Joel, you’re put into his daughter's shoes. Helpless and scared with
nothing to protect you, it was one of the most defenseless moments I
have ever felt with a controller in my hand.
When you finally
are controlling Joel, running through the streets as explosions break
out and people start attacking you from the shadows, nothing matters
more than getting Sarah to safety. His brother Billy is killing infected
left and right to clear a path so Joel can carry his baby girl away and
the sound of their snarling is growing louder as they gather in numbers
behind you. It's intense, and scary, and if you fail you will die, and
so will Sarah.
But then, that moment when you are finally
safe, when you’ve escaped the onslaught, there’s nothing more
traumatizing than having her life snatched from her right in front of
you, leaving you to watch helplessly as Joel cries while holding her and
Sarah whimpers the last of her life out. It was the first time a game
literally brought me to tears, and I will never forget it.
Cold As Ice:
am a Batman nerd. Fanatic really. I know anyone around me on a regular
basis is sick of me talking about the Dark Knight and his mythology, but
I am just drawn to it. So when Rocksteady brought the series to gaming
with the Arkham series, I was floored. I love those games and though I
could pick from so many different moments from the series, the two that
stand out are the Joker’s song after his demise at the end of Arkham
City and the boss fight with Mr. Freeze.
Mr. Freeze takes up shop
in the old Gotham Police Department and after a series of events, turns
his freeze ray against the Bat. With his giant suit and health depleting
freeze gun, Mr. Freeze cannot be taken down head on, and that’s what
makes this boss fight so amazing.
Throughout the fight Batman must
use every take down available to him to damage Freeze. Once a specific
takedown is used, it cannot be used against the walking Popsicle again.
This makes battling Freeze challenging and so rewarding, especially in
New Game Plus. Planning each takedown takes time and messing up costs
precious life as well as the time to once again set up the takedown
again. Though it borders on testing your patience, there is nothing more
satisfying than when Batman breaks through Mr. Freeze’s visor to punch
him with the final blow. It's one of the major moments that makes you
feel like the Dark Knight.
has introduced user generated content to the console arena like no
other game has done before. Crafting a level is easy to start, but takes
patience and mastery to finish. Once you have completed your level,
added all the finishing touches to ensure that it works from start to
finish and added in your music to make the world pop, it becomes this
point of pride for you. It's a part of you and your world you craft in
LittleBigPlanet. It’s almost nerve racking to put it out onto the server
for the world to see, but you have to. After waiting for minutes, hours
or even days you finally get your first run through and… Heart. That
moment when you realize that someone else in the world actually enjoyed
something that you created is exhilarating, and so worth all those hours
of hard work.
them or hate them, games now have built in achievements that quite
literally mean nothing, except as a point of pride and competition with
your friends. And everyone loves them! Okay, not everyone, but almost
everyone. The PS3 is my console of choice, so for me it’s trophies. I DO
love them. Striving to earn them after beating a game is so much fun
for me, especially when I love the game. However, no trophy can top the
fabled Platinum Trophy; the trophy of all trophies; the trophy that
shows you did everything for that game. Some games it’s pretty easy and
others it’s more challenging, and of course for those it is far more
enjoyable to obtain.
For me, my proud Platinum Trophy is Gravity
Rush, for the PS Vita. I loved that game, but when it came to all the
extra stuff I couldn’t stand it. I didn’t want challenges, I wanted side
quests. So for those 20 tasks in particular, I refused to trophy hunt
in the game. I beat it and put it down after they stopped releasing
download content for the title. Months went by and I didn’t even think
of the trophies. As much as I loved that game, I wasn’t going back.
Then, my roommate John downloaded Gravity Rush. He beat the game and
then went on to Platinum it like it was nothing. For whatever reason,
the competitiveness in me kicked in. I had to get the Platinum.
I picked the game back up and struggled. I couldn’t get through the
combat with these rare beasts, let alone the challenges. But after a
while I started to feel it. I was in the zone! No one could stop me.
Challenge after challenge, I flew through them with amazing speed. Every
time I only needed two or three tries, max. It was amazing! I seriously
could not believe it. When that familiar sound chimed as the icon in
the top right corner of the screen showed my Platinum Trophy I beamed
with pride. So thanks John, because that was by far one of my greatest
music game craze came and fizzled out in what seemed like the blink of
an eye, but for those few years when they were going strong, everyone
had them. I loved Guitar Hero for the longest time, but then Harmonix
released its band making title: Rock Band.
When the sequel came
out, all the original bundles with all the instruments that were once
hundreds of dollars finally dropped to an even $99.99. John, Bryan,
Briana and I jumped on the opportunity, splitting the game four ways and
setting it up in the living room. At first we kinda stared at it,
playing here and there. But one weekend we created a band between the
four of us. Taxidermic Psychos was the name. I was the singer, Briana
was on bass with Bryan on lead guitar and John on drums. We pounded
through the campaign, tearing up all of our plastic instruments until
they were broken. We had to replace the drum pedal three times.
it was all so worth it. Every evening we would play together, and we
felt like rock stars. We had our customized characters, all a point of
pride for each of us, and even created the custom band logo. We would
perform while friends were over and they would just watch us run through
set lists like no other.
Eventually we worked our way through
Rock Band 2 and 3 and now our instruments sit in the closet, much like
other rockers out there. But every now and then we get that itch, and we
set up the PS3, crank up the volume and prepare our set lists to rock
As I said before, gaming is an
amazing medium to connect us all together. We can share the same
experience or have something totally different from one another while
watching and playing the same game. That’s how art works: it connects us
emotionally while allowing us to shape our own experiences. Feel free
to share your own highlights in gaming, whatever generation it’s from,
in the comments below and thanks for reading.