This is probably going to be one of the strangest editorials I’ve ever written, if only because of the topic and the context. Because of that simple fact, I have a feeling the audience for this will be mixed. Some people will really understand the brevity of what I’m saying, while others will snicker and talk shit. That’s alright, go ahead and state how you feel in the comments. That’s the beauty of pieces like this, it’s clearly been defined as my opinion, which also means I welcome hearing other opinions from the community.
Enough with the introductions, let’s get this shit started.
The evolution of my gaming experience
I grew up with video games. They made up a core part of my life and childhood experiences. The first console I ever owned -which I shared with my two younger brothers- was the original Nintendo Entertainment System. From there, my Dad purchased a family PC which we used to play DOS games, he was a programmer and he needed it for work. I have very fond memories of playing Star Wars Chess, the Fortress of Dr Radiaki (look it up, it’s some crazy shit), DOOM, and lots of other titles.
From there, I eventually upgraded to the Game Boy with my first title being Pokemon Red. Eventually, my Mother and Father surprised us with a Playstation One and the rest is history. My later console collection ranged from the Nintendo 64, to the Playstation 2 and finally the Xbox 360. Of course, these days I also own a high end gaming rig, a PSP, plenty of Android devices and so on and so forth.
Back then, my tradition involved doing household chores for a $20 allowance every month. My Mom would take us to the local Toys R Us whereupon I would purchase a new video game on the cheap, usually a PS1 title- a lot of them RPGs.
Point is, I’ve been brought up around video games my entire life. It wasn’t exactly something my parents bestowed upon me, nor did it have anything to do with friends. You see, I’ve always had a penchant for living vicariously through fantasy. I still read obsessively, consuming a book as soon as I’m interested, just like a child eating a bag of candy. The same goes for a video game, although the experience is a lot less connected these days.
When I was younger I always played games through to the end, because of the way they made me feel- more specifically because of how they sparked my emotions. I can’t even begin to explain how I felt when Grey Fox took that fateful slam into a wall thanks to the Metal Gear. Nor can I explain what it felt like to solve one of the most difficult puzzles in Tomb Raider without the help of a strategy guide or website. Even Crash Bandicoot was the shit, running, rolling and diving his way through various themed levels.
You may not remember it, but one of those $20 gems I bought for the PS1 was called Vandal Hearts. It was a turn based strategy game, that wasn’t without its flaws. Still, every time I return to that game the pure nostalgia washes over me like an unforgiving ocean wave.
To me, it’s perfect even to this day. A great deal of that opinion can be attributed to my original time with the game. Nostalgia is a funny thing.
You see, back then I lived for the experience. Games were so much less technical, yet they were so much more immersive. I can’t quite explain why that is. Maybe it has everything to do with my age at the time?
What it feels like to me now
A lot of those same feelings, emotions and immersive experiences are long gone to me. Don’t get me wrong, I still very much adore video games and I can’t get enough of them.
Sometimes though, I find myself completing a game just to get to the end. Even so, I catch myself jumping into a game just to play it- purely to check it out and see what it’s like. After I’ve had my fill I end up moving on to another title. Of course, I’ve always been somewhat fickle when it comes to consistency, but I find it increasingly difficult to complete a video game these days.
It’s tough to see things through to the end sometimes, at least more so than it was for me when I was younger. Back in those days, I really lived for that kind of experience and I was usually engrossed until end credits rolled. I spent my days searching for secrets, checking for glitches, collecting all the hidden items and unlocking all the secret characters.
Hell, by the time Halo 3 came out I was in no mood to search for all of those hidden skulls, at least not on my own. You better fucking believe I did it, but not without the help of online guides. I didn’t use them just because they were available. No, I used them because I had no interest searching for such things myself.
Maybe it’s a product of growing up. Sure, that sounds like a silly prospect especially coming from someone who writes about video games and plays them all the time, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I have other priorities now instead of sitting in my parents basement playing video games. Mowing the lawn for a measly $20 is a running joke now, especially when games cost in excess of $60.
My entire point here is that, I don’t really play games anymore for the same reasons I did when I was younger. The odd part is, I’m not sure if it’s me that caused that change or if it’s the general state of video games as a whole.
Instead of spending my time reflecting on why this is, I’d like to hear from you. Have you been through the same type of evolution as I have? Do you feel the same way sometimes? Why do you think this is?
Now please keep in mind that I’m not saying there are no modern games worth playing. I still come across a game or two that I complete in one sitting, an absolute gem that affords me a whole slew of new experiences and memories. I’m just saying that it happens a lot less often than it used to.