The games for which we’re thankful

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we lift our controllers (and/or iPhones) to say thank you to the great games that made us who we are today.
December 2, 2013

Like many, we’re recovering from too much turkey and holiday traffic. But in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we thought we’d take this opportunity to lift our controllers (and/or iPhones) to say thank you to the great games that made us who we are today.

Carla’s Favorite Games*

*Apparently this should’ve been Carla’s Favorite Games of the 1980s…

1. Hunt the Wumpus: This is one of my earliest and nerdiest game memories. Hunt the Wumpus is an odd logic puzzle game that was originally published in 1972. I fell in love with the 80s version made for the TI-99. (The same TI-99 on which I first learned to code BASIC. Yes, I was that child…)

© VideoGameHouse.net

© VideoGameHouse.net


2. Zork: I love interactive fiction (IF) in general, so perhaps this should be a giant thank you to Infocom for making so many games possible. Zork and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe were my first IF loves, first on Commodore 64.


3. Choose Your Own Adventure Books: It’s a book! It’s a game! I can jump around or read it straight through for some kind of strange non-linear meets linear experience. I learned early that reading can be interactive and fun, thanks to IF and CYOA. Is it any wonder that decades later, I’d make my own playful approach to reading with Stride & Prejudice?

4. Tetris: I spent many, many, many hours playing Tetris throughout my life on many consoles, but the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) remains dear to my heart. Clearly I’m nostalgic for the 80s. (Speaking of which, anyone read Ready Player One? Serious 80s references!)

5. Almost anything Mario: In particular, the original Super Mario Bros (again for NES), New Super Mario Bros Wii (the 4-player cooperative extravaganza that I’ve discussed before), and Super Mario Galaxy (for mind-blowing 3D level design).


6. King’s Quest: Or perhaps this should also be a larger thank you to Sierra Entertainment for their line of adventure games. I may also owe them a nod for enabling my love of bad puns for King’s Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder and King’s Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow.


Anne’s Favorite Games*

*I followed Carla’s lead straight into nostalgia-land. And I should first say “diito” to many of the above, particularly the IF titles and the NES, my first gaming console. But here are some of my very own…

1. Breakout: I always feel a little sheepish about the fact I was never really a gamer growing up. I definitely played games of all kinds, but I was never the kid waiting at the mall for the new title to come out, or teaching myself to code (ahem, Carla!). So I was incredibly excited when I recently unearthed a “How I Feel” book that I wrote for a class project in the second grade. It was full of typical elementary-school platitudes like, “I feel happy when I’m with my family,” but the page that really caught my eye was the one where, in my second grade scrawl, I’d written, “I feel angry when no one lets me play Breakout.” My evident fervor for the classic Steve Wozniak/Steve Jobs Atari game, played on my family’s trusty Atari 2600 (when my brother would let me at the controller, apparently), made me realize video games may have shaped my childhood more than I knew.


2. Oregon Trail: Sure, it’s a bit of a cliche, but Oregon Trail was for me as for many others, a bit of a gateway game. Easy to play, introducing classic tools like an inventory and simple embedded mini-games, it’s a classic for a reason. Plus, it gave a whole generation the cultural touchstone, “You have died of dysentery.”


3.  Spy vs. Spy: Based on the famous MAD magazine characters, pick your spy and run around different rooms in an embassy, picking up objects and setting boobytraps to blow up the enemy spy. I played this on my NES for countless hours and now that I’m thinking about it again, am curious to see if the current iOS version is any good. Regardless, the little animations of the blown up spies floating up out of frame as angels were super awesome.


4. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?: This game appealed to so many nerdy aspects of my character. Reading, mysteries, gathering esoteric information about foreign countries. It even came with a reference book, The World Almanac and Book of Facts. Anytime I could commandeer the family’s Apple II to globetrot and track down the evil members of V.I.L.E., it was on!


5. Cause of Death: From my far more recent history, this older sibling game to Surviving High School, which I’ve written about here before, is arguably more Interactive Fiction than game. Whatever you call it, the incredibly impressive thing about Cause of Death is how well its writers have developed the characters and relationships over time. For the first few episodes, I thought I was playing through a pretty run-of-the-mill batch of serial killer stories, then I realized how attached I’d become to the crazy forensic tech, the steely Captain of the police force, and the relationship between the two lead investigators. The designers at EA have been struggling in recent months to get this game updated by release deadlines with a small audience and limited resources. I hope they find a sustainable way forward, because I would miss it terribly if it went away.


Clearly, these are just a few of the games we’ve played over the years, but it’s been fun to think of those seminal ones that shaped our impressionable gaming minds. We’d love to hear yours – email us KidsGotGame@NoCrusts.com, follow us @NoCrusts on Twitter, or sign-up toreceive email updates.

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