I've been listening to the backlog (again), because believe it or not, 6-8 hour podcasts once a month just isn't enough for me nowadays, you lazy bastards.
I was thinking of necro-bumping one of the old threads from shows 12, 14 or 15, when the RGR crew each in turn talked about how they were getting old, cranky and didn't like gaming today like they used to... and asked the listeners to post in the forums with their opinions.
Well, I may be three and a half years late, but here are my views as a comparatively younger videogamer.
My videogaming childhood, in "short"
So, as an introduction, a "short", tastefully edited biography: I'm 28 years old, 1984 vintage, clearly in the younger crowd around here.
I spent most of my childhood in France: I grew up climbing trees, tasting wines and playing videogames, as all people should.
The first game I ever played, as mentioned in another thread, was Sopwith on my father's IBM-compatible work PC around 1987. I toyed around with that PC in my pre-school years, but my parents wouldn't let me and my elder brother have a console. Thankfully I played loads of Master System and NES at friends' places. Operation Wolf, Megaman 2, Super Mario Bros., many good memories.
To my mother's eternal dismay, I finally got my own console from my godfather: a Master System II (the Megadrive was out by that point, but my friend had a master system, and at age 7, I didn't care about the latest and greatest).
I spent countless hours playing sonic, sonic 2, the built-in Alex Kidd in miracle world, shinobi, was utterly confused by Ultima IV, had a jolly old time.
Eventually, around 1993-94, my father snuck videogames into our household in the guise of an Amiga 500+, which, barring that one girl I kissed at age 4, was my first true love.
Holy smokes! So many games, so much fun! Favourites include Grand Prix, Moonstone, battle squadron, fire and Ice, and last but not least Cannon Fodder, which is, to this day, the only videogame my 59 year old father actually likes, he bloody loves it still!
The Amiga was eventually left behind and sold off to make way for the first PC that was just for my brother and I. Oh that Pentium I 166Mhz MMX! DUDE! IT HAD MMX!
Of course I had no idea WTF MMX meant, but I was still the coolest guy in school...well from my own point of view, at least.
I still played all the best Nintendo games at my friend's place, a die-hard fan who now works for the big N at their European Headquarters in Frankfurt (Germany, not Kentuky), SNES, N64, GCN, gameboys. But tinkering with my PC and installing all kinds of awesome games on my PC was where my video game hobby became a passion.
I seem to have babbled quite a bit already. Long story short, I've been a PC guy since 1996, and I'm still loving it.
What gaming is for me today
To the actual meat of the matter:
Like I said, I'm 28. I'm not over the hill quite yet*, but I'm not a teenager with infinite free time either. I didn't grow up with the "Golden Age" of videogames, when it was all new and fancy. My videogame culture was born of a more structured age, when games were an established medium and the basic ruleset of how a game works was understood in the industry.
This may be one of the reasons I enjoy more complex games nowadays. As the entire universe knows, SoCal Mike's most favouritest game of all times, past present and future is Kaboom!! On the other hand, my favourite game is The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.
For me, an example of a "twitch" game is Counter-Strike, not a simplistic atari 2600 game. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mean "simplistic" as in "for dumb people". I mean mechanically pure and efficient gameplay-wise. "catch the bombs or you lose". That's the whole gameplay right there, in one sentence. Genius in its simplicity.
I do enjoy all manners of retro games, even many that were made before I was even born (almost all emulated, nowadays, I shamefully admit), but I'm also still very much on the bleeding edge of modern games.
I'd probably be one of the young whippersnappers baffled at a 2600 who needs a Scott telling me to press "reset" to start the game.
For the sake of editorializing, here is how I see the evolution of videogames:
going from extremely simple (pre-computer space radar tennis) to ever-more complex ex. Steel Batalion, and all the while, videogames have grown and continue to grow in popularity.
Nowadays, people who call themselves "hardcore gamers" blame big publishers of "dumbing down" the games for console "fucktards" who can't even understand a simple 17 key combination to open a chest in an RPG. There is some truth in that, as streamlining the more complex aspects of most big budget titles in order to appeal to a wider audience is really no trade secret.
Yet I reckon we hit the greatest divergence in the development of games less than a decade ago.
Roughly put, there are the big blockbuster titles, with the latest tech and tens of millions of moneys thrown at them; and then you have the indie scene, the basement coders whose "ancestors" founded companies like codemasters. A rebirth of when there was no such thing as a 100 man team and a 3 year development cycle for for one game. Thanks to the internet, new platforms like the "smart"-phones and the ever-increasing accessibility of high quality development tools, indie development has really gained some steam (<--- this is a pun, geddit?).
Also, although modern games are sometimes awfully soulless corporate shells, the people making them still have a passion for the medium, and for "casual" gamers who can't or won't sink hundreds of hours into one complex game, there is still a huge market.
I vividly recall Scott, back in january 2010, talking about being completely lost with the playstation 3's "27 button controller" while playing Terminator Salvation.
Well, you don't have to! I know you guys are in touch with current technology, you know more about iphone games than I do, and that's gaming too! Don't lose faith in modern gaming just because the most publicised branch of it eludes you, go play VVVVVV, Braid, darwinia, Dwarfs!?, frozen synapse, Atom Zombie Smasher, cave story, galcon fusion, gish, geometry wars.
You may not be as passionate as you used to be in your childhood and teens, and that's fine! nobody is!
People's tastes get more refined over time if they are passionate about something. I very highly doubt a 40 year old cinephile is giddily expecting to see Battleship or Lorax, or whatever else those Hollywood"I_wish_they _were_all_dead"executives pump out. He'll go see The Artist and then go home to rewatch A Clockwork Orange when he gets home.
* Not to imply that anyone on these forums is over the hill
What is retro?
Like I've said, I've been a PC gamer for most of my life, and it's really hard to draw hardware generational boundaries on this system. However, I agree with the general sentiment of old != classic. If something was made with passion, and has a flavour of a past age, it's retro. If it's retro and also a token of a past age, it's a classic.
If you'll pass me the sudden unexpected fine litterature reference, In The Blue Flowers, a novel by the French surrealist Raymond Queneau; the protagonist asks "when does the news become history?". Welp, the same dilemma applies to retro videogames as far as I'm concerned.
Succintly, if at day one, you have trouble not peeing yourself in exitement, but 2 years later, you're having trouble even remembering what you were excited about, you either have Alzheimer's, or more probably that thing really didn't become classic/retro (example: the game.com, anyone remember that failed piece of excrement?)
Is the Coleco vision retro? Well duh.
Is the Mega Drive retro? It is to me!
I personally hate all sony gaming devices, so out of pure prejudice, I don't think the PSX is classic at all.
Is Half-Life a classic game? Well it's a great game, even a landmark for many people, and it was made last millenium...good enough for me.
Is SiN retro? (a than greatly anticipated first person shooter released in 1998, the same year as Half-Life). Well...it's old...it's not terrible, but it's not really notable, so I wouldn't put it as classic or even retro.
Okay, enough babbling. Damn you people and your 6 hour podcasts, I can't stop talking either! Well at least I managed to keep it just under 1000 words, so I'm good.
I hope you enjoyed my ramblings, if you read them all, and if you didn't, you shouldn't be cheating by reading the last line, now, should you?