There are some people in your life whose mere presence brings you back to a time and place you though you forgot. I was lucky enough to have an old friend reach out to me recently. They were such a presence in my early twenties and I’d basically forgotten how influential they were in my life. It’s important not to dwell on the past, but taking a pit stop there can be a nice reminder of where you’ve been and how those experiences and people shape where you’re heading.

Just talking to my friend reminded me of how after long days of class or work, I could come home, fire up my Xbox 360 and be greeted by my friends who were always ready to play something. In this case it was Battlefield 3. It was almost a nightly tradition in our circle. I remember piloting a helicopter and flying my friends around while they manned the turrets. I’d get them in a great position and they’d just level the ground below us. Scorched earth was definitely our policy and we were good at it.

Or maybe we weren’t. For every successful run we had, I can remember several instances of me crashing our copter into some trees, or getting sniped in the face from what could only be described as a “murder ghost” who definitely existed and was invisible and cheating and I hated them.

The point I’m making here is that I can track certain times of my life via what games I was playing and with whom. Nowadays you can see where I’m at by just watching us stream Overwatch or PUBG or whatever else, but it wasn’t always like that. I played Battlefield with one group of friends, Call of Duty with another group who was different from my friends who I played Halo 2 with, who were definitely different from the people I played Star Wars Galaxies with.

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I think of what games I used to play and immediately can remember who I was friends with at the time. Being able to track my life in that way is something I uniquely share with games. Sure I’ve seen movies or concerts with different people in my life, but those are just a few hours at a time. Whereas I’ve played games with various people for dozens upon dozens of hours over long stretches of time. That to me is special in its own right and is a feeling that isn’t easily replicated by anything else.

I guess that’s a big part of the emotional attachment I have to certain games and the gaming industry in general. Like many people, I grew up with this stuff, formed bonds with people around them and even made some friendships that still persist to this day. Hell, most of the people in our videos are people I’ve known for over a decade and I can tell you exactly which games we played together when we first started being friends, and that’s pretty darn cool if you ask me.