Here are the top five games that I think have affected me the most... Only four are attached to this post because one of them is more a "group" of games.
Raid over Moscow (C64)
This was a very complicated game at the time. You started out in a hanger and had to fly all these ships through the door in zero G. Anything you crashed you could use as lives for the next section. Then you had to fly this side scrolling flight path and survive... then take out some towers... then take out the castle... then go inside and kill a robot. At each stage the more people survived the more chances you had in the final confrontation. This game was amazing for its time... in complexity... and satisfaction. This game really set the stage for my excitement around gaming in general.
Wing Commander (PC)
This game was the first game I upgraded my PC for. After seeing the graphics in some PC gaming magazine... my mission in life became convincing my dad that we no longer needed the Tandy 1000 and it was time to make the jump to a 386sx computer with a VGA color monitor. I found a buyer for the Tandy... and used that money to by a 386sx from the local computer store that I spec'd out myself. And playing the game... oh god was it amazing... my friend Leonard and I would co-op game... he would work the key board (nav, targeting, weapons, power) and I would work the joystick. We were like a couple of F-14 tomcat pilots. This game created my love of simulation titles.
Space Quest III (PC)
Space Quest was my introduction to the adventure genre. From there I played adventure games (Lucas Arts and Sierra) almost exclusively for a long while... For some reason SQIII had all the elements of a great adventure title... and the graphics were amazing at the time as well... there was also that chicken rocket/landing mini game at the galactic diner... a game within a game! How novel! :) I loved this game and all the adventure titles to follow.
Galactic Empire (BBS)
Growing up I ran a BBS in my town out of my basement called Z-Street BBS. It was my first introduction to building online communities and the experience there helps me even to this day on the work I am doing here at GamerDNA. But the best part of running BBSs were the door games. It was my first exposure to real-time online multiplayer. There was this one game called Galactic Empire where you would fly these space ships around. And it was like being in a sub. You would hit F5 to refresh the screen to see where the other player (who was also dialed in on a modem) was at. You would then drop mines to try and hit each other... or attack fortresses on eachother's planets. It actually started a modem arms race so that you could hit F5 and get a refresh faster than other people. For awhile I was the only person with a 9600 USR Sportster modem and everyone else was on 1200 or 2400... that was really fun. I was so obsessed about this game for months... and had to pay by the hour to play it... and pay I did. I attribute this behavior to my currently low barrier to pay for micro-transaction games. I will pretty much pay for anything. Always have... always will.
All of the other games on this list are pretty old... fast foward to Planetside by Sony Online Entertainment. Back when I was younger, I remember sitting around discussing what we thought would be the ultimate computer game. In our minds it would have to be a persistent 24 hour world where the battle was always raging. You could choose to be anything you wanted... fly aircraft, drive tanks, be a foot soldier, a medic, a transport driver, etc. It would be hundreds of people fighting hundreds of other people from all over the world. That is PlanetSide to me. It was the realization of a childhood dream. I played it for hours a day... for months... maxed out my rank... met tons of people... made tons of gaming memories. And going forward, I always judge almost every great game experience I have now against those I had in PlanetSide.
Simulation/Space Combat Simulation
Adventure/Third-Person Graphic Adventure