RPS have been doing quite a interesting series of articles called "Gaming Made Me", with people listing 5 particularly influential games that led them to the point where they were working in games journalism or as developers. I'd like to hear some of GWJ's equivalents.
These aren't just games you played a lot, but games that opened your eyes to what a game could be, that maybe had an influence on your life (e.g. losing you a girlfriend in Levine's case). In the interests of brevity, maybe we could set a maximum of two each.
I'm going to choose:
This really opened my eyes to procedural content. There is a massive amount of stuff here. I loved the upgrading of the ship, the contemptuous names for the ranks e.g. HARMLESS->MOSTLY HARMLESS, the icosohedral space stations. It remains a giant of its time. At the time I tried to work out how much space it must take up for all the data, and I couldn't work out how they had done it. (I was only 10 and hadn't heard of generating content procedurally from fixed seeds to produce massive amounts of stuff repeatedly). It all seemed like magic.
Civ was a watershed for me. I was at university by this time, and the scope of the thing amazed me. I love systems, how a number of simple rules interact to produce complex results, and that's Civ all over. The way you create an empire from a single settler, the use of government types to produce differently geared civs (even though I could see how naive some of their effects were - no corruption under democracy?). I always played the science turtle to tanks, and then conquered the world, a strategy that served me well until King level, where you need to be aggressive out of the gate. "Our words are backed by NUCLEAR WEAPONS!" resonates still.