I feel like I should have seen #GameStruck4 coming. It’s a permutation of #FilmStruck4, which started with this one tweet:
I’d never heard of Filmstruck before. As someone who does PR, I’d say this social media campaign is a resounding success. Filmstruck started by tagging four big people in film, who cascaded the modern-era chain letter until people who weren’t tagged started joining in for fun. Now there are permutations like #GameStruck4, and people are wondering where that came from and tracing it back to #FilmStruck4, even if they missed seeing it over the past couple of days. Filmstruck has put its name in front of zillions of eyeballs, even if not everyone bothers to research and find out that it’s a streaming service for classic movies.
I thought about doing #FilmStruck4 yesterday, but it was pretty easy to pick four movies and then I felt too lazy to actually put the tweet together. Then this morning I saw #GameStruck4 and had to stop and think.
For #FilmStruck4, my list is simple:
- Labyrinth must be the first thing I choose; it’s been my go-to “favorite movie” for as long as I can remember. From David Bowie playing such a delightful villain to the array of strange characters given life as muppets, it’s the one I always reach for when asked to name my fave.
- Speed; it’s not my favorite action movie anymore (The Jackal now holds that place in my heart), but it was my first favorite action movie and the one that started teaching me to love explosions.
- The Matrix also must be included by default; it’s the masterpiece movie of my teenagehood. A recent re-watching made me see that to this day, it’s even better than I realized. (Two Keanu Reeves movies is an accident; I’m not really a fan, so I don’t know how he ends up in a lot of my favorites.)
- That leaves one more, and while there are multiple things that could go in here, I have to give it to Moon Child. How many people in the west even know this movie exists? I found out about it because the lead roles are played by Japanese singers I like. When I watched it, though, I fell in love with it in a way I wasn’t expecting. I started to recognize the qualities of Asian dramas — and the acting in them — that really appeal to me. This is also where I developed a taste for serious stories broken up by moments of humor.
- Honorable Mentions: Reservoir Dogs, Howl’s Moving Castle, Pacific Rim, a handful of Disney classics, Toy Story
It’s easy for me to make a mental leap from Moon Child to my favorite anime, Fullmetal Alchemist. Is there an #AnimeStruck4 hashtag? Yup. Here goes:
- Fullmetal Alchemist is the anime I chose to represent my love of anime over the years when I got my first tattoo. It’s a paragon of anime (and manga) excellence, a great story with fleshed-out characters. I connect it to Moon Child because it goes down some very dark paths but avoids staying too heavy for too long by interspersing regular bouts of silliness. FMA does that more deliberately and far better than Moon Child does, though.
- Although this list starts with my current favorite, it would be incomplete without Robotech. This early western franken-anime was cobbled together from parts of three different anime and given a dub. It played a big part in anime’s migration to the west, making it historically significant. Personally speaking, it was that badass cartoon Dad had on VHS tapes that I ruined by watching so much. It’s how I got into anime and giant robots; without it, I would not be who I am today.
- The Vision of Escaflowne is a rare beast, being an anime not based on a manga. It’s a weird mix of shojo and shonen stuff and the result is unlike any other anime. It also has an amazing soundtrack and was how I found out a lot of anime was censored on TV in the west at the time.
- The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi is a sci-fi show with deep, meaning-of-life stuff disguised at first as a wacky high school drama. Setting things in high school is an overused trope in Japan, but this one does it unlike anything else I’ve encountered and I can’t overstate how good this show — and the book series it’s based on — is.
- Honorable Mentions: S.cry.ed, Full Moon wo Sagashite, Ultimate Weapon Girlfriend, Full Metal Panic!, Code Geass, Gundam 08th MS Team, Sword Art Online, Gravitation
Books and Finally, Games
A #BookStruck4 list is similarly easy for me to put together (Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, Starship Troopers, Howl’s Moving Castle). But games? I have two to start with, two that must be on the list:
- Final Fantasy VII taught me that games could be like interactive books. That realization was when I started to understand the power of gaming as a storytelling medium. I wasn’t just along for the ride; I was driving the car.
- Journey, which captures pure emotion so brilliantly.
Picking Two More
…and then what? Some Zelda game seems like an obvious choice, given that the tattoo I’ve always wanted is triforce on the hand, but which one do I pick? A Link to the Past, which my little brother and I played through together? Ocarina of Time, which is easily the Zelda game I’ve played most? Wind Waker, which had the coolest explosions of any Zelda game? Breath of the Wild, which made something I typically can’t stand, open world gaming, fun? How do I narrow that down? Wait, that was four — let’s just call that my #ZeldaStruck4. Next!
Hmm, I’ve always loved strategy games, though I’ve rarely had time to play them lately. I have hundreds, if not thousands, of hours invested in the Civilization series… but also the Disgaea series… and then there’s OG StarCraft, which taught me that I don’t have to be good at a game to like it.
There are a zillion RPGs I love for different reasons. Borderlands 2 is one of my favorite games of all time, not least for the Tiny Tina’s Bunkers & Badasses DLC, which captures so much of what makes both Borderlands and D&D great, then turns out to tie into the main game in a way that made me cry. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars taught me to love crossovers in general; without that I would never have been hype for Kingdom Hearts. It also taught me never to rent a game in the days before memory cards. Chrono Cross taught me to appreciate something for what it is rather than what I want it to be and also made me realize how awesome video game soundtracks could be.
I could go on, but ultimately what it comes down to is that I have so many formative moments related to video games that it’s so much harder to pick just four for that than for any of the other media I enjoy. What do I pick to represent my faith in the power of games as a teaching tool? As art?
I think the only way I can pick a #GameStruck4 is if I don’t restrict myself to digital games. Then D&D, which I grew up playing with my family (my Dad was the best DM) must also have a slot. As should Monopoly, which I fucking hate because it’s such a bad game.