From Super Mario Bros. to The Last of Us: All games can make an impact

August 17, 2017

It’s not just about the games themselves, but the experiences we have with them.

Over the weekend, I finally played (and finished) ABZÛ. While I was playing, my husband Jimmy - who has never played ABZÛ - came into the room and asked, “So, what’s the point? What do you do?” For some reason, that really got the wheels spinning in my brain. I couldn’t answer him right away; I had to think for a minute. I mean, what IS the point? To explore the world and try to figure out where to go until it ends? It really got me thinking...does it really matter what the point of a game is? Can’t any game have an impact on you, regardless of the objective?

I started to make a list in my head of games that have had the most impact on me. I came up with well over 20, but I’ll pick two: The NES classic, Super Mario Bros.; and The Last of Us, the critically acclaimed PlayStation 3 game by Naughty Dog. What do these two games have in common? One involves squashing goombas and running and jumping across levels to save a princess, and the other is an elaborate tale about a man and a young girl who build a father/daughter-like bond while struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by the Cordyceps virus. Despite their VAST differences, both of these games changed my life.

Super Mario Bros. is the first game I ever remember playing in my life. I was six years old, and I played it on my NES Top Loader: my first console. I spent many a night in my old “playroom” learning how to play video games on that NES. When my best friend came over, we always played Super Mario Bros. (and SMB 3), and those are fond memories I’ll never forget. I always wanted to be Luigi, but I also wanted to be Player 1; oh, the struggle was real! If not for Super Mario Bros., I probably wouldn’t be playing video games today, and thus, wouldn’t be writing this.

Fast forward 14 years to 2013. I was finally able to play the long-awaited new IP from Naughty Dog: The Last of Us. I was hooked from the second I started. I will never forget the first time I finished it, and how I sat there crying because 1) the story is incredibly emotional, and 2) because I remember realizing, in that moment, how much I truly love video games, and how far I had come in my gaming journey at that point.

Any game can change your life. Every person who plays a game is going to have a different experience, and that’s part of what I love about games. As emotional as I get over Super Mario Bros. and The Last of Us, these games might not mean anything to someone else who plays them.

I have realized that it’s not so much about the “point” of a game, or even which game you’re playing, but it’s about the individualized experience each person has while playing. In the end, we will remember how we felt while playing a game, even if we end up forgetting the character’s name or the plot.

What gaming experiences do you hold dear? What games gave you all the feels?
Talk to me on Twitter: @gottosaurus.

  • Cassie Gotto-White is a gamer, a planner babe, and a boba tea fanatic. She discovered her passion for video games at age six when she was given an NES Top Loader by her aunt. Her current main consoles are the PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch. Some of her favorite games include The Last of Us, the Uncharted series, the Yakuza series, Persona 5, and Night in the Woods. Follow her on Instagram at @planningwithcass and YouTube at

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