Everything changed for me the day I discovered the action RPG. Gripping stories, engaging combat mechanics, and an addictive progression system through character development and loot.
When I first discovered video games, we only had an IBM XT PC Compatible in the house (8088 processor, Hercules monochrome graphics, upgraded with a second floppy bay and internal hard drive). I mainly played simulators like Test Drive, LHX, and Jet, as well as good ol’ California Games, Karateka, and the original Prince of Persia.
Sierra’s old commandline adventure games (Police Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, King’s Quest) also still ran on the old XT and were an early introduction of what Steam tags as “story rich” games.
When we finally upgraded to a 486, I was finally able to play games like Wolfenstein and Doom, but for the longest time I only had the shareware levels of the first episodes. Somewhere along the way I also got Dune 2, and I fell in love with the real-time strategy genre.
Other games that got a lot of play in this time were the entire shareware catalogues of Apogee and Epic MegaGames — Wacky Wheels, Epic Pinball, Duke Nukem, Raptor, Jazz Jackrabbit, Solar Winds, Tyrian…
But one day, at a family friends’ house, I was introduced to a little-known game called Zeliard. Developed by an independent Japanese studio called Game Arts for the NEC PC-88 back in 1987, and ported to MS-DOS for Sierra On-Line in 1990. I only first got to play it sometime between 1994 and 1996.
In-between all this, I was still playing RTS games like Dune 2 and WarCraft: Orcs and Humans. A friend got a CD-ROM which included Iron Helix and his father bought Myst. We also got Red Alert and StarCraft along the way.
Outside of the RTS and RPG genres I was playing games like Strike Commander and Wing Commander, the 1995/6 Formula 1 game, and the various point-and-click adventures from LucasArts.
All of these games I enjoyed, but the ARPG bug had bit.
A friend introduced me to the Quest for Glory series and it was amazing. Another showed me Ultima (which, curiously, never appealed), and at some point in high school the first Baldur’s Gate game was released.
While I found Baldur’s Gate a chore to play at times, the story kept me engaged. It would also introduce me to Planescape: Torment, still arguably the best story ever told in a CRPG. (Yes, I played The Witcher 3. It is a masterpiece and has much better combat mechanics, but Planescape’s characters and story were just so perfectly realised that it will take more than a masterpiece to outdo it.)
Before Black Isle began releasing the most memorable story-rich games that PC gamers had ever seen, though, Blizzard gave us Diablo. I couldn’t play it at home until a year or so after its release, though. That’s when we got our first Pentium.
Diablo made it official — I wanted deep lore and a satisfying character progression cycle from my games. It doesn’t have to be a straight-up ARPG, though. Games like Strike Commander and No Man’s Sky scratch that same itch in different ways.
TL;DR: I like games with story and/or lore, and have for a very long time. Nowadays I just play Warframe, though .
(Afterword: I don’t only game on PC, but it was my first and remains my primary platform. At one stage I was contemplating switching to PlayStation 4 rather than dropping over R6k on an upgrade, but I was gifted a new rig about 6–7 years ago and was able to pick up a GTX 970 for like R4.5k, so I stayed on PC.
Many years after getting our first PC — when I was in grade 2 or 3 — we got an old Nintendo Family Computer. I played a lot of Goonies on that bad boy and grew to love couch co-op and indirect competition in games like Contra and Tetris. I now own a PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch in addition to a PC.)