Do you remember the first game you played? For me, it was Super Mario Bros. on the NES over at a friend's house on his newly purchased system. My family had just moved to Minnesota and this was my first "play-date" with a new friend. More than anything else, I remember that he was upset when I beat his score in the two-player mode, displaying a natural affinity for this form of electronic entertainment.
Super Mario Bros., though, was only one in a slew of formative titles that defined my early perspective on gaming and shaped my expectations for, at this point, decades hence. The first PC game I ever played? Terminator. Perhaps you've never played Terminator, or even heard of the old school title, which ran comfortably on a 386 with a 25 MHz processor and barely registered on the computer's 80 MB hard drive. Its idea of DRM was a code sheet composed of an array of symbols on a grid, labeled by column and row. It was red, and a start-up screen would ask, each time one began the game, to find the character that matches a certain position on the grid. Failing to do so would result in the game booting one back to DOS after about fifteen minutes of gameplay.
This was a game that played like GTA decades before Rockstar's baby became a phenomenon. It allowed one to play as either Kyle Reese or the Terminator, alternatively attempting to either protect or exterminate Sarah Connor. One did so in an open world, able to explore an early polygonal city at one's leisure. One could hijack cars, buy weapons and medical supplies, anger the police, or otherwise cause havoc and mayhem, all from a first-person perspective. It worked well, too, and had a multiplayer mode that one could engage in over a direct PC-to-PC connection, using a null modem (my dad and I never did get this working).
And yet this title stands forgotten in the annals of gaming history, remembered solely by those few who recall playing it over twenty years prior, alongside such greats as Wing Commander and its sequels (a franchise that had its fate sealed by an execrable movie and a pitiful arena combat game on XBLA), the Ultima titles, and even more esoteric fare such as Beneath a Steel Sky and Guardian Heroes.