For a very long time, I didn’t consider myself a gamer. Like everyone else my age, I grew up playing Nintendo, Sega, and some computer games like Myst and King’s Quest. But I wasn’t a gamer. That changed two years ago when I saw Mass Effect on sale on Steam.
I’d heard of the game, of course. Various nerd websites had been trumpeting praise for the title for ages. Myself, I’d dismissed it as just another space marine shooter. That certainly wasn’t for me! But now it was cheap, and recreating the home lives of various superheroes through The Sims was getting dull. Time to see what all the fuss was about.
Imagine my delight when I booted the game up and discovered I could play a female Shepard. That wasn’t on the box art! I quickly customized a tough marine with a red bob and battle scars, and began the game.
One video card upgrade later, I was actually able to play the game.
I was hooked almost instantly. I mourned Jenkins and Nihilius, admired Kaidan’s voice, sweet character, and ass (discovering later with glee that he was a romance option), and explored every inch of the Citadel. I agonized over every decision, at times having to step away and take a break to consider. I battled geth, hunted down Saren, and saved the galaxy.
It was a tremendously new experience for me. Not since my point-and-click days had I played a game with such a strong story, incredible characters, and amazing setting. I wasn’t controlling some buff, manly space marine across alien terrain. That space marine was me. It’s difficult to articulate how huge a revelation this was for a female video game player such as myself. I was finally able to make a personal and emotional connection with a video game.
I was a gamer.
I went on to play Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age, Half Life, Portal, Ocarina of Time, and every other great game that I’d missed out on, thinking that these games were not for me. A whole new world had opened up for me. Games could be more than a time waster and diversion. They could be art.
I’m still catching up on all those games I missed, so feel free to leave more suggestions below, as well as how the Mass Effect franchise affected (and yes, disappointed) you.