Right, this was asked on another forum, and I'm so terribly unoriginal that I just outright nick other people's ideas sometimes, but it might reveal something interesting over here too. For lack of a better long-winded definition, 'gamer' is used here to describe someone who just enjoys games. Y'know, someone who's not quite hardcore, and not quite casual, hopefully sitting somewhere in that (quite possibly extremely narrow) medium between teabagging fanboy WASD elitism and someone with the basic motor skills to hold a Wii remote and a nunchuck. Note that this doesn't limit the question to that particular individual, it's just meant to establish a sort of general basic idea of someone who can be given a controller and not look at it like they have to pilot an extra-terrestrial's space helicopter.
Also bear in mind that the matter isn't "What was your first game?" or "What game did you play the most?" (although they will both invariably factor into the answer), it's about the particular game experience that eventually set you off a path down interactive entertainment highway and eventually led you to post garbage on Internet forums over and over again about it (which is exactly what's happening here).
So, for example, while many of my contemporaries might instantly jump on SNES titles like Super Mario World or Legend of Zelda as their source of inspiration, those particular titles never made me rabid for video games. Sure I enjoyed them, but I wasn't friggin' wild about them and wouldn't go out of my way to talk about them in school.
But then two things happened about ten years ago:
1) I had finally saved up enough for a PS1 of my own.
2) Dancing Stage EuroMIX - or DDR for non-Euro jerk-offs - entered my life, via the local arcade, and subsequently ruined the summer of that year (and in retrospect the rest of my life)
As left-field as it might sound, Dancing Stage Euromix was the first game to truly enchant me, mostly because it gave me and my friend the chance to show off like a couple of assholes at the arcade for five minutes in front of a crowd. Our enthusiasm for it got so bad that we ended up buying the home version to practice, just so we could enjoy our few short moments of glory on the big flashing cabinet, rather than flailing around and getting a big stinking fail prematurely and wasting our parents' money.
And then it just went into a downward spiral. We'd rack up the difficulty and return to the arcade to show off even more. Even though our legs would ache, and the song list was limited, it took an awfully long time for the high to pass. At that point I realized that video games could be more than just a solo get-the-fuck-off-the-TV-we-want-to-watch-the-Simpsons affair. They could be a big stinking spectacle in which the player and the viewer could equally enjoy (ever seen a crowd at an EVO tournament? Fuck me).
Too bad the home version pissed off the rest of my family with my stampeding upstairs, but I'd like to think of the game as my first ever grinding experience before ever playing Final Fantasy 7. The song "Dead End" by N&S on extreme was my personal nemesis, but I eventually pulled it off. Bear in mind the last 20 seconds of the following vid are murder on the thighs. Actually, scratch that, the whole thing is murder.
Feel free to share your own.
[N.B. I had done this blog beforehand, but neglected to attach it to the forums, so apologies to the handful of people that did comment originally.]