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Of Favorite Games and Booty Calls

Susan Arendt | 2 Jun 2008 21:00
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"What's your favorite game of all time?"

Short of "Hey, can you get me a Wii?" it's probably the question I get asked most frequently. It's the gamer's version of "What's your sign?" I suppose, a conversational shortcut used to break the ice and get to know someone better. My answer varies depending on who's asking the question. For non-gamers, I just throw out a title that I think they're likely to have heard, so that they can nod approvingly or perhaps even chime in with an enthusiastic "I've played that!" I used to answer them truthfully, but the blank stare and deafening silence that follows when you tell someone who maybe saw a Pac-Man arcade cabinet once that your favorite game is Soul Calibur or Zork is simply too awkward to bear. I must confess, though, that I will sometimes tell them I simply couldn't live without Ai Cho Aniki; I know they have no clue that it's a hysterical thing to say, but it makes me chuckle just the same.

The answer I give the gaming-savvy is really no more helpful. Ask me what my favorite game is, and I'll ask you to nail down a specific genre. Or platform. At this point, I might even have to start narrowing it down to a particular decade. There are simply far too many variables at work for me to elevate one single title to Favorite Game Ever status. It also depends on your working definition of "favorite" - there are games in which I've invested hundreds of hours, and there are those that I've played only briefly but cherish nonetheless. Is my favorite game Yoshi's Island, which I've completed several times over and think is a shining example of its genre, or is it Pitfall II, which I spent many a happy evening playing with my dad, but haven't touched in years?

At this point, feel free to think that I spend way, way too much time pondering what should be a fairly simple question.

After allowing the question to run several exhausting laps around my noggin, I came to the conclusion that my answer - whatever it might be - wouldn't really reveal much about me, anyway. If I tell you my favorite game is BioShock or Final Fantasy VII, what does that really say about me? If the top slot in my personal gaming pantheon was occupied by the likes of 50 Cent: Bulletproof, you could at least intuit that I have really, really lousy taste; but what kind of real insight is to be gained from learning that I adore Portal? Everybody likes Portal.

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