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What Games Are You Most Thankful For?

Illustration for article titled What Games Are You Most Thankful For?

This has been an interesting year for me personally with lots of ups and downs. I’ll be honest; I’m looking forward to saying goodbye to this year. Through it all, I’m grateful for the amazing games I got to play and revisit. The remasters of classic games for the latest generation of consoles makes it easier than ever to re-experience the games I loved (and sometimes endured) as a kid. These include Final Fantasy VIII and Phantasy Star IV, both epic JRPGs telling ambitious plots that also acted as time portals to parts of my life as I remembered the memories associated with them.

This past year, I was terrorized by the journey of A Plague Tale, creeped out revisiting Raccoon City in the Resident Evil 2 remake, and spooked out playing Sweet Home again. Visual novels like Root Letter and 428:Shibuya Scramble made me wonder about the future of literature and books with their cohesive blend of text, visuals, and gameplay.

Portable games in particular have been really meaningful for me. I was riveted by Hotel Dusk and its complex web of interlinking stories that evoked more emotion in me than most of the films I watched this year. Ghost Trick’s music made death a jazzy groove and it’s a soundtrack I still listen to (I have an interview with the composer going up this Saturday). Samus Returns took Samus back to her roots in an isolated alien world that emphasized exploration and discovery in a way I hadn’t experienced since the original Metroid Prime. I’ve only just started A Link Between Worlds and am already impressed with the clever puzzles Nintendo has designed that make you, as a player, feel smart each time you solve them.

But it’s the games that have affected me personally that I’m most grateful for. In Dragon Quest XI, the heroes suffer a lot; they face an apocalyptic cataclysm, discover earth-shattering truths, and confront unimaginable evils. Spirits of the past give them advice and attempt to aid them as much possible. But they can’t directly intervene as every generation has to fight their own battles. Through the journey, they find out who their friends are, as well as the villains. People who are reliable; and people who are only in it for themselves. In their travails, I found comfort knowing that even these heroes have to grind it out to beat the harder bosses and struggle against the odds when everyone else has capitulated. If this year and DQXI has taught me anything, it’s that fighting evil takes a lot of endurance and guts.

I tried to imagine what a world without videogames would be like. What would fill the void and sense of immersion unique to games?

I’m grateful that games do exist and there’s so many amazing choices we have.

So Kotaku, on this Thanksgiving Day, what games are you most thankful for?

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Peter Tieryas is the author of Mecha Samurai Empire & Cyber Shogun Revolution (Penguin RH). He's written for Kotaku, IGN, & Verge. He was an artist at Sony Pictures & Technical Writer for LucasArts.

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DISCUSSION

If you’ll indulge me, please allow me to talk about a twelve year old video game that gave me more good memories than maybe any other. Halo 3 is not a perfect game. There’s a lot that can be said about it, surely, about whether or not its campaign is any good, whether the multiplayer was balanced, whether it still holds up after all these years. But all of that is kind of moot and unimportant to what it represented back in 2007. It was the first time and the last time that I ever had as much fun as I did in a multiplayer setting in any game. It wasn’t because of SWAT and MLG and all that competitive stuff (and they did have their place), but it was because of the sense of community. There was no other game like this back in 2007, still basically at the dawn of Xbox Live and - in the ensuing year or two - encapsulating its prime. Hundreds of thousands of players flooded the servers of Halo 3 playing, yes, matchmaking - but more importantly custom games and Forge. The creativity of the community and the sense of camaraderie was unparalleled then and continues to be unparalleled.

Halo 3 represents the best version of an online community. We may make jokes about Xbox Live’s reputation for producing some toxic stuff, but when Halo 3 was working, it was working like no other game then or since. When I was a littler version of myself, playing Halo 3 made me feel like a part of a community. In the game, I was liked and valued - all the more crucial since my awkwardness or differences caused me to be socially ostracized in school. Halo 3 gave me a family, a place where I could have relax and socialize and where the fun never ended. It’s something I’ll always be grateful for: that time capsule between September 2007 and August 2010 when Halo 3 was it, the pinnacle of online gaming, of community and pure bliss. There are definitely times when I wish I could go back to those days, but I’ll never forget them.

Thank you, Halo 3. You were the best. See you on PC soon, buddy.