A Moment that Defines You

Below is a narrative that we had to write for an assignment. What specific piece of software, book or other media inspired us to be where we are now!


“A dark time is approaching. Willst thou run? Or fly? Willst thou sink? Or swim? Willst thou finish? Or die trying? And in the end, willst thou soar? Or willst thou suck? Coming November 23, have ye what it takes?” Every time I saw these words on TV, I had goose bumps. I remember clearly seeing that blond fellow with a green tunic, a shield and a sword fighting monsters, dragons blazing fire, jewels and that epic trailer song made me almost beg my mom for that game. It came out on November 23 and my birthday’s November 30. It was my 10th birthday. I’m sure everyone remembers being 10 and wanting some toy so much that every single day you would ask your parents for it.


November 30 finally arrived, a week that looked more like an entire year of wait. I went to school, and when I came home, my birthday present was waiting for me. It had the right shape, I opened it, but unfortunately, it wasn’t what I asked for. It was FIFA 98, a Nintendo 64 game too, but just not what I really wanted. My mom told me “When you talked about that Zelda game, we had already bought FIFA for you”. I was a bit disappointed, but considering Christmas was only 25 days away, hope wasn’t lost.


That period of time flew by, being a person that loves everything about Christmas, from the decoration, to the family dinners and reunions, to the giving of presents, I didn’t think much about that game. I was too busy glazing at my Christmas tree with the beautiful star on its top or just sitting near the presents and wondering what could be there (resisting temptation to open them too). In the meantime, toys and game commercials bombarded us kids so I lost a bit of focus on that game. In 1998, we didn’t have so much internet communication as we do now, and I wasn’t very interested in video game magazines back then, I just wanted to play, I was ignorant of the fact that Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was being considered the best video game of all time and that it was exploding the review scores.


Christmas eve came, and all the family was together with some friends, a very big dinner, with the sweet smell of cakes and all that amazing food we Portuguese eat on that beautiful night. I remember looking at the garden covered with pure white snow, however I didn’t appreciate all those details as much as I do now as an adult, the only thing I could think of, of course, were the presents that waited for me below the tree.


Sitting at the table, I looked every two minutes at the clock, time didn’t seem to move forward, instead it seemed that I was frozen in time by some remote like in the movie Click. Dinner was over and we went to the living room for some games, now the focus was on the digital clock of the VCR. It seems strange that only 15 years ago, we had a VCR, and now we are looking at 4K (Twice the power of FULLHD TV and Blu-ray) players coming out for next Christmas.


00:00 showed on the VCR. “Let’s open the presents!! Let’s open the presents”.

–       Calm down. Said my dad walking slowly towards the Christmas tree. We started opening the presents, but still no sign of Zelda. Presents were running scarce and my heart was pounding, but still no game, until all the presents were gone. I was feeling bits disappointed, but after all the presents were given…

–       Oh wait, look, we have a last one over here. Said mom coming from the hallway with a rectangular shaped present. It’s for you. She said.


I opened the present, slowly because I didn’t want to look like a wild animal who hadn’t eaten for weeks. I opened from the sides, the box was yellow on the sides with some characters drawn I didn’t recognize, I couldn’t tell what It was. The top of the box was black and in yellow there it was, that beautiful shield with a sword and these words “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time”. The reason I didn’t recognize the box was that it was the special edition. I opened the game box and started going through the user guide. (Those were the times where games came with a nicely colored user guide). So many characters, so many objects, that game looked amazing. I even read the plot in the user guide. However I wasn’t allowed to play it straight away, I had to wait for the next morning. Needless to say that it was a sleepless night.


On Christmas morning, I woke up at 7 (those were the times where I didn’t want to sleep until midday because I wanted to watch cartoons or play new games). I went downstairs, plugged in my N64 and inserted that game for the first time, ironic that during that time I didn’t know that the game was about the change my life forever. The first image that popped into the screen was a beautiful background and the hero galloping on his horse Epona, with a soft melody behind it. I press start, introduce my name, and dive into the most epic adventure I ever was part of.


To briefly explain the concept of the game, you are a small hero that has to save the world. Sounds pretty cliché right? However, how this story is built, it’s incredible, with monsters, friends, memorable characters, epic music, goddesses, collecting items, it’s the perfect soup made with the perfect ingredients. From the first sword you get, to the slaying of Ganondorf, the main antagonist, you live the adventure. That game gives you such a feeling, that you feel everything the character is supposed to feel, you are sucked into the screen, into the game. You are the hero.


In the game, you play an unusual instrument to make something specific happen, and there’s this particular moment, where you have to open the gate to a temple, where you will grab for the first time the Master Sword, a needed weapon to complete your quest. When you enter that temple, you hear the most epic song in that game, the Song of Time, you walk slowly towards the gate, open it and see a magnificent sword in a stone, where you grab it and lose yourself in a time space for 7 years. You fall asleep as a child, and wake up as an adult. All that combined with the epic songs, gave me the most memorable time in any game.


After I finished that game, I knew that it was what I wanted to do. Build videogames so that I could make people feel the way I felt playing that game, I want players to dive into my games like I dove into that one. Every single feeling, emotion, world, characters that my imagination creates; I want to share them with the World. That game, all those epic moments combined were the trigger for a passion that never ceased to grow over time.


I never stopped writing ideas for video games; I keep my notebooks close to me, because I know someday I will have the opportunity to build entire games around them. As an adult I started looking for the numerous fields that entered the process in building a video game. There were the artists, the developers, the sound editors, the managers; no field seemed to suit me until I saw the design part. The design consists on building the ideas, levels, and the brain behind the game. That was what I was looking for, that’s me!


Every time I use the Song of Time (used in the game to travel in time), and travel to my childhood memories, that game comes to mind. I’m glad and proud to be part of a generation that was so much influenced by that game and that it still inspires people. I wish to inspire people with my games, make them feel happy or sad, feel the pain of the character. It brought me joy and a future. Game Design is my future, thanks to that amazing piece of software.


Gonçalo Pereira



Notes: Full Sail logo is property of Full Sail University

References: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzhw_jxWJoU


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