Do you have a game that's linked to a specific memory?

What game play experience do you have that’s now inextricably linked to the context or surroundings that you played it in? Maybe you played a game to get over a breakup and now can’t think of that game without remembering your ex. Or maybe it’s co-oping a game with your kid and being there to see their love of gaming begin.

Mine is that is playing Link’s Awakening on the original Gameboy in car journeys to visit my grandparents. They’re both dead now but whenever I play a zelda game I always remember them and our visits at their old house. It hit me especially hard earlier this year when I first played BOTW on the bus. The fact that I was back in Hyrule but also travelling in real life made those memories incredibly vivid.


Fire Emblem (GBA) is so tied up with the smell of chlorine, the sound of my mother’s terrible 80s power ballads CD, and the sensation of rocking gently in a car because I used to play it so much to and from swimming lessons. It is inexorably tied up with my experiences of playing the game and probably justified some of my love for it.


there are a couple of local label indie bands from when i was in middle school (Most Serene Republic specifically) that i cannot listen to without thinking of Maple Story. i would have the physical discs playing in a boombox behind me while i grinded all day in Maple Story and Neopets at the age of 12 or 13

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Loading Wonderboy on my best neighborhood friend’s Datasette and playing it until I was sent back home by his parents is ingrained in my brain, especially my futile attempts at convincing them that “I don’t need to go yet, my parents are alright with it” :wink:


I Played Hardball! with the same, aforementioned buddy when we were older (disk drive, yeah!) until the early morning. I distinctly remember our endless access to Snicker bars, Coke cans, etc. since his Dad was working in FMCG retail.

Man, I need to get in touch with him again.


Years ago I used to play a game called Battle for Wesnoth because it was one of the few things I could play on my aged pc.
I used to have a hard time at the all boys boarding school I went to for a while and I have a lot of memories tied up with lazy afternoon summers of playing that game and listening to Cinematic Orchestra’s All Things to All Men and having a good cry by myself.

Something else, back in 2012 was just about the only time I really played LoL, it was my second year of uni and my boyfriend and I had moved in for the year. I have a lot of good memories of getting baked, watching Stargate Atlantis and playing League with him.

A few years later I found Natural Selection 2 which quickly became the only game I played for a year or so. What felt really special to that time is all the friends I made in the tight knit oceanic community. I took over the management of a competitive clan and have a lot of fun memories of playing pugs and scrimming for fun. We never really got anywhere performance wise but it was more about playing with people you knew, who were fun and you could trust to play the game well. The game’s scene has declined a lot since then but I still get flashes of how great it was at the time. Organising an attack on the other team with all 6 of us in perfect sync, right before the inevitable chaotic mistake was a lot of fun. Every now and then I go back and relive the echoes a bjt and I’ll bump into one of the old pros who played back then and we’ll reminise while tearing up the server.

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I have this memory of my mom sneaking up on me and giving me a scare while I was playing Resident Evil 2 on Playstation. :smile:

Another game is Baldur’s Gate on PS2 which I completed an entire playthrough with my ex.


The Lost Bastille in Dark Souls II is inextricably tied to several episodes of the podcast Radiolab (Specifically the episodes Black Box, Patient Zero, and Stochasticity, all of which I highly recommend), for the simple reason that I was listening to them while trying to conquer that area. I’m not sure why that specific area got such a strong link – I was certainly listening to other podcasts or watching videos while playing the rest of the game, but for some reason whenever I see pictures of the Lost Bastille I think of those episodes, and whenever I think about those episodes I think about the Lost Bastille.

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GTA Vice City is always linked to the memory of the time i lost the last mission at the last possible second and shouted “FUCK” so loud my dog fell off the couch

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I have a lot of feelings associated with Donkey Kong Country. It was the first game I ever got into. I borrowed my cousins Gameboy Advance for a road trip to California and I played it on the road. That road trip was also the first time I every played Super Smash Brothers with an older family friend. But DKC always makes me think of cars, for one. I remember playing the first mine cart level over and over again. In particular, though, the song Aquatic Ambience gave me my first existential crisis. That song took me on a ride.

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I’m a little wary of going back and playing again. In my mind it’s so linked to those times that I feel i might fuck up those memories or in some way disrespect the younger me. It’s stupid I know.

The games you play with other people are special. I had friends who i had nothing in common with and definitely wouldn’t be friends with other than the fact we all loved playing warcraft 3 in LAN parties. Good days.

My first all-nighter was MGS2, where me and a friend played through the whole game over the course of 12 hours. The batshit narrative takes on a particular resonance through the lens of sleep deprivation.

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oh man i really wanna try pick out a few of these

Pokémon Crystal, in the back of the car on a dark and miserable winter evening in suburban north London when my mom had to go rescue my sister from a broken down school bus in the snow and couldn’t leave me at home.

Pokémon FireRed and Advance Wars: Black Hole Rising, on a tatty old sofa that smelled of Airedale and decade-old cigarettes, in my grandmother’s house in a crisp South African winter, watching cricket and Fawlty Towers VHSes.

Stick Murder Mysteries, actually getting somewhat traumatised, blasting The Strokes on suggestion from my sister, on the first computer I ever actually had myself. She was a cool 13 year old, I was a lucky 7 year old, the computer was her hand-me-down.

Ridge Racer PSP, the best feeling handheld game in existence. Sharing it with my cousin and uncle in our family place on the beach in South Africa. Summer evenings trading lap-time trials in between card games and intermittent chat around the open kitchen. I got really good at making salads. I had Pokémon Diamond when I wanted to be more private.

Mass Effect 2, a game to hide in through teenage depression. Saturday afternoon, rented house that I hated the smell of, long hours of junk food, not changing out of school clothes from the half day, doing my best to not acknowledge my shit. Same with Civ 5, I have 500 odd hours played, and about 3 finished games.

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, endlessly frustratingly difficult, such a sweeping expansive intrigue that turned into genuine love. Add in Dissidia Final Fantasy. A new PSP-3000, hiding under duvet feigning sleep, allowing myself to crush on Bartz. A slow slow inching towards self-acceptance.

The first three episodes of Kentucky Route Zero, in one sitting. Completely dark room, back in our place in South Africa. Excessively large house with no-one else sleeping on the same floor as me. Hideously plastic red blanket that I’ve since claimed as an inheritance from my grandmother. Orange and mango juice that actually tastes of oranges and mangoes. Fugue state at 3AM. Episode 3 is still without a doubt my favourite game bit ever. No question.

Desert Golfing and on my phone. Suddenly, very pleasant and simple repeated loops of mobile phone gameplay became really, intensely important to me. Going to Gamecamp, hearing about games as a coping strategy, meeting a bunch of very cool people, giving a talk about KRZ myself, avoiding the VR demos because I can tell that any untethering from immediate reality would be intensely dangerous. Learning who the Cool Ghosts people who are now some very good friends are, when we’re socialising afterwards just hiding in a corner seat at the pub and burying myself in Desert Golfing.

Netrunner on A refuge during my worst depressive stretch, a massive and intensely demanding cognitive load to stop thinking about so much stuff. Early hours, NBA commentary in the background, poring over strategies and tweaking endlessly. Camped in my shitty second year room, dinner of cheesestrings and crisp multipacks, dropping the uni year. In that space, making time to play The Beginner’s Guide and 80 Days, probably numbers 2 and 3 on my favourite games of all time. My head running in overdrive on escapist fantasies about digging into virtual spaces and critical theory. Nowhere near my actual body and mind.

Slowly unentangling the process of taking the year out, reading The Transreal by micha cárdenas (on reference by Robert Yang and merritt kopas in Woodland Secrets 32) and Literary Theory: An Introduction by Terry Eagleton on trains between home and uni. A start to a process of intellectual healing.

Soul Calibur 2, digging my PS2 out of storage and finding a copy on eBay so me and my then-bf could play a game I had only ever tried on arcade and he hadn’t touched in years after his older brother left home with their copy. Lazy 1v1 matches, learning a fighting game character for the first time (Kilik, then Sophitia), folding out the sleeper couch for easier cuddling, breaks to watch Planet Earth, eat waffles and drink smoothies. (I am 100% not over him, we broke up 3 months ago)

…and here I am, having spent a lot of time not playing games in the last year or so. That’s OK too.

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Kingdom Hearts reminds me of a specific Christmas morning when fate took the wheel and steered me in the direction I’ve ended up in today.

My sister and I woke up bright and early (like you do on Christmas), and rushed into the living room. While we had been sleeping, a PS2 had appeared, already completely hooked up to our tv with a small stack of games next to it. We grabbed the first game on top of the stack and opened it up, eager to play a game on our new system. Perhaps… too eager, because the disc snapped clean in half while we were trying to take it out. I can’t remember which game it was; I just remember it was a racing game.
Bummed, but far from giving up, we set the broken game aside and grabbed the next one on the stack. It was Kingdom Hearts. We played it for the next hour and a half until our parents woke up, and I became completely enamoured by it.

Fast forward 15 years and now I have anime in my blood.

Tony Hawk’s: Underground is connected to my memory of staying at my friends house while the rest of my family was out of the country for a week. He, his two little brothers & I all basically idolized Tony Hawk & they got the game for some holiday & we spent every afternoon in the basement exploring the levels & trying to get through the story mode. I remember we all worked together to make the “coolest” custom skater but I have no recollection of how they looked besides “cool”. I distinctly remember how big of a deal it was when one of us accidentally fell into the hidden tiki world & then spent hours trying to find out how we did that.

The first time I stayed up all night we were playing the original Legend Of Zelda with my cousin and it was a little old by then already but such a great game, I think we completed it some time ahead of breakfast and I went through the rest of the day like a complete zombie but I didn’t sleep until early bedtime and all the time the Zelda Theme was playing on repeat in my brain.

Whenever I think of playing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I recall playing it in the late hours of the night as a kid when I should have been sleeping. I didn’t have a TV in my room, but I had saved up for a monitor that was designed to affix to the top of a GameCube and close like a clamshell when not in use. I had that thing propped up at the edge of my loft bed next to my N64 and have a bunch of cables and hardware jumbled at my feet when I finally went to bed. I’m surprised nothing ended up overheating from sitting on my blankets for hours on end.

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Super Smash Bros. Melee and Double dash bring forth hurricane Ivan, camping with my extended family in the living room because it was the farthest from the trees and playing loser has to crank the TV and make sure the batteries for the ‘battery outlet’ never died.
I’ve never cranked a TV.

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Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker brings back scent memories of this body spray my sister used to have in elementary school. It was, like, fresh linen scent or something and I remember the room we played video games in smelling like it all the time, and the game I spent the most time with as a kid was Wind Waker.

Yeah I think I know what you mean. It’s sometimes hard to go back to something when you’ve moved on from it but I feel that more with music. I know I can’t recreate the memories when I go back to a game but for NS2 it’s a nice nostalgia fix for me. Sometimes it feels like an old boys association or something since I get to bump into old rivals and team mates while still having some fun in the game we all loved.

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I have two very specific games that are linked to every car ride from age 10-13 for me. They are Digimon Rumble Arena and NCAA Football 2003. My family would travel a lot for vacations when I was growing up, and at some point gaming technology allowed you to take consoles on the go. I got a tiny screen that attached to my PS2 and a A/C converter and adapter for long car rides. My friend and I would put down the middle seats of my mom’s Expedition and play NCAA 2003 and Digimon Rumble Arena the entire car ride on what must have been a 4"x6" screen on top of the PS2.