How Do Video Games Become Our Favorites?

-by Dylan DiBona

I doubt I’m alone, but I get this “feeling” when I play a really special video game for the first time. It’s like a sixth sense that tells me that this game is going to become one of my all-time favorites. I don’t get that feeling a lot, but more often than not it’s correct. The Legend of Zelda is my favorite video game franchise, but when I played Breath of the Wild earlier this year, I didn’t get that feeling. It’s a great game, heck even amazing, but it didn’t quite do enough for me to jump into the realm of love I have for a handful of games. It got me thinking, how do we come to the conclusion on what games become our favorites?

Image result for hotline miami


Hotline Miami is one example where I didn’t get that special feeling when first playing it, but when I look back in hindsight I realize how much I love it. Sometimes it can be a good case of timing. Maybe work or school has been super stressful and the only thing keeping you sane is a fun video game waiting for you at home. Perhaps there’s a personal problem you’re dealing with at home and you need a little escapism. A game that receives a 63% on Metacritic can easily be a 100% to a single person if it comes to a them at the right time; most would call this occurrence  “nostalgia goggles”.

Hotline Miami came to me summer of last year. It was on sale and I was bored during the usual summer slump of games. Out of nowhere I had a great PS4 game to play with unique gameplay, stunning music and a trippy story. If it wasn’t for that summer boredom, who knows if I would even have played Hotline Miami?


Sometimes a game just does everything right for somebody. A lot of people like to say that The Wind Waker is too easy, too short, or (rarely) a bad Zelda game. To me, Wind Waker did everything right. It was basically perfect in my eyes at the time of playing. Looking back I can see some cracks in my rose-tinted glasses and see a few issues I have with Wind Waker, but I still adore it.

As a kid I believed perfection within entertainment existed. Now I’m not so sure and it’s a topic I struggle with to this day. I don’t know if there’s a perfect video game out there, but really it all boils down to personal desires towards gameplay, story- everything.

Out out the blue

Lastly, there are some games that were never even on my radar before their release. Sometimes a friend will convince us to try something new, or there’ll be a really good sale and we’ll say “why not?”

Image result for south park the stick of truth

I like the South Park television show but I knew of the bad stigma of licensed games. I was surprised to find out that The Stick of Truth turned out be a great RPG, and it remains to be one of my favorites of the genre. Another example would be the Fire Emblem series. I never would’ve thought a slow, chess-like video game would be my thing, but it is!

Perhaps that unexpected, out of the blue nature of a game can add to it’s charm. This doesn’t happen to me a lot, but when it does it’s quite special.

I love a lot of games, but inside my brain there’s a small vault for the games I cherish. It’s really a wonderful feeling to add another game into that vault.


So guys what do you think? How did some of your favorite games take that title? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply! As always, thanks for reading!


10 thoughts on “How Do Video Games Become Our Favorites?

  1. It all feels a bit random, doesn’t it? Breath of the Wild wasn’t on my radar – then boom! Loved it. I think expectations, as you mention, play a big role. If you’re not given the chance to build them, it’s hard to be disappointed.

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  2. The major determining factor for me seems to be that the game stands out in some way. My favorite games always leave me with an emotional high of sorts. Not of happiness always, but they made me feel something at the very least. My favorite games leave me with a feeling of legitimate awe, sorrow, or glee. Sometimes all three.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Walking Dead Season One was my fave game of that year. It was certainly an example of something coming out of the blue. Based on previous Telltale games I was expecting a point n click title so the shocking twists and captivating story caught me off guard.

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  4. I think “Lack of expectations” is an important factor. Expectations of perfection can have a negative impact on your view of a game. I’d almost argue a lack of knowledge about a game is key, allowing those moments of surprise to be truly surprising. You’re Out of the blue… comments are particularly relevant here.

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  5. Mostly when I’m playing a game and even when I’m not playing I’m thinking about the next stage or how I could improve and my fingers are literally itching to be playing again, I know that game is currently my favourite (or my most recent obsession). There’s no real reason why some games draw me in like that and others don’t. Some months I’ll just skip from game to game, making a bit of progress here or there and other times I just get fixated on one particular game. Pretty much, it is all fun.
    Probably the last game that really got me completely obsessed was Invisbile Inc. Even when I wasn’t playing I was reviewing different scenarios in my head and thinking how I could have avoided the guard if only I’d… Then I had to play again to see if I could do what I’d been thinking about.

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  6. Great topic! It’s a good question, isn’t it?

    Personally, I think you nailed it with the first one. The timing when we play a game has a huge factor with how it hits up on an emotional level. You may not remember having the time of your life when playing the game, but it can easily leave a lasting impression you without even realizing it. To loosely quote The Office, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” I think that applies to games as well. You never know you’re playing what will be your favorite game, after all, it’s the feelings and memories that come weeks, months, years down the line that that truly define it as a “favorite” in our minds. Just my $0.02!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. These are all great examples! For me, it has a lot to do with my memories of the game. A game I just played can’t be my favorite game, not yet. It needs time to settle, for me to want to come back to it and soak it all in again. I always want to revisit my favorite games, but I may not always want to revisit a game that’s objectively good but didn’t gel with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. There’s definitely a formative time in everyone’s life where great games will make the most impact. For me, it was around the time N64 was out, so I grew up loving all these great games that came out for the system, like Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time. That’s not to say that I don’t like games older or more recent than that, but I will always have fond memories regardless of how they hold up today. Luckily, those two games are still fun for me now. Great thought-provoking article!

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