25 Years of “Go-To” Games – A Timeline

World of Warcraft – 2004


I thought my obsessive gaming days were behind me as I really wasn’t sucked into a game for the last few years of high school. Once I reached college I thought that maybe all of my gaming days were behind me as well, maybe it was all just a phase. Then WoW was released and I truly learned the meaning of the word obsessed. At least I wasn’t the only one; the one saving grace about playing WoW was that no matter how much I played there was always someone who was more obsessed than me. It was during this time that I learned just how big the gaming community was.

To be honest my time spent playing WoW is a blur of cartoony icons and nerdy jargon. I do remember somehow doing well in college even though I don’t actually remember doing any real work, at least not while I was raiding Molten Core. In the end it was my obsession that killed the game for me, before too long playing WoW felt more like work than fun. So I quit, and to this day I’ve never obsessed over a game in the same way.

DotA – 2006


The one good thing about my time spent playing WoW was that I was introduced to DotA. I was actually introduced to all kinds of Warcraft III custom maps (Footman Frenzy, Hero Line Wars, Wintermaul Wars, etc.), but DotA is the one that was by far the most entertaining. It was back when I had the patience to learn something new and after years of grinding away in WoW I found the idea of a self contained game with an actual beginning and end rather refreshing. In fact I started playing the game while waiting for PvP queues in WoW (Those vanilla AV queues were brutal). Eventually I realized I was having more fun during the wait and decided to just start playing DotA instead.

I didn’t know an entire new genre was being growing around me, not at the time. All I knew was that I was having a blast and for the first time in a long time, I didn’t want to play WoW. It was during this time that I caught the MOBA bug, the genre that has easily dominated the majority of my gaming time since, with a few exceptions.

Gears of War – 2007


In a one day shopping spree after starting my first real job after college I bought a 52” HD TV, my first Xbox 360, and a copy of Gears of War – that was a fun weekend. I went from being a PC gamer to a console gamer again literally overnight. It was the first multiplayer console experience I enjoyed because, let’s face it, there’s nothing more satisfying than landing headshot in the original GoW. I was still playing DotA during this time, but more of my real-life friends played GoW every night so for a time there it was my exclusive go-to game.

It was also my introduction to the disgusting cesspool that is Xbox Live chat, a service I’m happy to say I no longer use. While I did spend some time with CoD and other titles, there was really no substitute for a night spent playing GoW with my friends.

League of Legends – 2009


The first time I saw a group of people playing League of Legends I made a mean face and said, “I don’t want to play Disney DotA.” I think I also may have said that it’s too cartoonish and that no one would ever play it which, of course, couldn’t be more far from the truth. To me it was an easier version of DotA with vastly superior match making, a combination I couldn’t stay away from, apparently. It combined aspects of many of the other games on my list, yet had the appeal to not be such a fringe game. For once I didn’t mind playing something popular.

To this day I don’t think a game lasted longer as one of my “go-to” games. I played LoL from almost the day it was released until this fall which is roughly three and a half to four years, that’s a long time to play one game. I wouldn’t say I’ve retired it, but if it was a cartridge like Rad Racer I’m sure I would have worn it out by now.

DotA 2 – 2013


This brings me to my latest go-to game, DotA 2. I didn’t think much of it at first, it was a bit buggy, too dark, and the matchmaking was terrible, so I put it off and didn’t think about it. Then a few months ago a friend of mine, after years of saying he wasn’t interested in DotA, decided to try the game, and that was that.

Since its release the game has improved on many of the things I didn’t like about it originally. It’s become its own game and is no longer just a port of the game I played on the Warcraft III engine. The matchmaking has greatly improved, even though the stat tracking leaves much to be desired. Overall it’s become worthy of being one of my go-to games, even if it wasn’t originally.

I can’t think of what my next go-to game will be, but I’m sure this isn’t my last one. I hope it’s not a MOBA at least, as that would make my list rather boring. But I have a while to think about it, if history says anything about my gaming habits I’ll be playing DotA 2 for quite some time until I find something more worthy.

  • SMW
    Street Fighter II Turbo
    Super Mario 64
    Mario Kart (any)
    Smash Bros Melee
    Halo (any)
    Orcs Must Die! (any)

  • Geoff

    one does not simply quit WoW, you only take extended breaks.

  • Oh! I almost forgot about MegaMan 2 and Megaman X !

  • Peter

    Hate to point this out but FF7 was released in 1997.

    You’ve lost some years of your life somewhere along the way. Or your memory has been altered for some nefarious purpose….Awkward….

  • MilitantMonk

    Heroes of Might and Magic 2 is still one of those all time great games to me. I am actually playing through it and all the expansion campaigns again. It’s still hard as balls at times, the graphics hold up great even playing it on a 52″ Plasma (a testament to good art style and sprite based graphics), and even years later it’s still fun.

    FF7 I routinely every few years pick back up and play. Good engaging story is still good. Who knew? This time though I think I want to get my wife to play it too and introduce someone new to something amazing.

    Secret of Mana was the weekend sleep over game of choice with my friends. Three kids staying up all night glued to the screen trying to get to the end as quickly as possible. If someone got tired the CPU would take control while you rested or grabbed a snack. No waiting!