Editorials and Features
Article by: MrCHUPON
WU: I am Not a Modern Day Gamer, and I'm Ashamed. [Written 2004-10-12]
Please bear with me.
I've been playing games since I was five or six, and believe it or not it started with a Commodore 64. Yeah, that machine made 1986 and 1987 perhaps the most physically inactive years of my pre-grade-school life. The frequent trips to the arcades didn't help douse the habit, and the NES that randomly arrived on my doorstep (literally) just made things worse. I don't consider myself a child of historical gaming -- those I leave to the veterans of Pong, Adventure, and the like. (I salute you.) However, I have to consider myself something when, on some days, I look at all the fancy games today -- even among the zillion that I own -- and almost feel like crying about the state of videogames.
What's wrong with games today? They're longer, prettier, more immersive, and awe-inspiring. It's not just about pressing buttons, it's about witnessing (fictional) historical and epic moments and crying when a character dies in a cutscene, or feeling the power of a semi-auto in your hands as you mow down terrorists or opposing gang members. Games have advanced to a point where it's truly interactive entertainment, not just ... games.
So again I ask -- what's wrong with them?
I don't know. Honestly as I look into myself, more and more I think (and I know this will satisfy you out there who hate my anti-"new school" ranting) that there's something wrong with me instead. I'm getting older. No, 23 is not old per se but I feel like it is. I'm getting to the mentality we're all familiar with: "When I was your age..." I look at the high school freshmen today who are ogling Halo, Metal Gear Solid, or practically any modern-day RPG with glitzy cutscenes... and that's what I think. "When I was your age, games were this and that... forget this three dimensional crap." I immediately think of the simplicity of picking up any game, being able to learn it, and then being challenged by truly wicked design. No doubt you've noticed that I've gone on a shmup/mindless action game rampage lately (Ikaruga... Guardian Heroes...), and it's because my old farty brain is thinking about how much I hate all of this pretentious filth that's proliferating games today.
But if you go into my room, you'll see my recent library and summon hailstorms of criticism and exhortations of me being a hypocrite. It's true, and I sadly admit it. Sure I've owned a Cube since launch, my system of choice for simpler but more gratifying games, and yes I have been warming up my old 2D Saturn games... but here's a sample of games I own since the "32-bit" age: Prince of Persia. Splinter Cell -- both games in the series. The aforementioned Metal Gear Solid, both the original for PSX and the Cube remake. Resident Evil Remake and Zero. Mark of Kri. Metroid Prime. Far Cry. Doom III. Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, X, Tactics, and Tactics Advance. Silent Hill 1, 2 and 3. Castlevania: Noun of Noun (basically every single one). You see what I mean? Slipping through the cracks are examples of truly older-school, simpler yet more stunning gameplay, are Gradius V and Mario Kart: Double Dash, among a scant few others -- games that by all rights should be dominating peoples' libraries. (Sorry, the soap-box doesn't want to leave me alone. I promise I'll try to behave nicer.)
For every five grumbling comments that I make about a game that so relies on three dimensions, cinematic storytelling, overly complex-to-the-point-of-pretentious gameplay, or all three, I probably own one. Do the math and that's a lot. (So, in essence, yes I grumble a lot.)
What have I become?
Why do I deny what I have become?
Did I just call today's masterpieces "filth" a few paragraphs up???
What's going on here???
The reason escapes me but I just don't achieve the same amount of satisfaction as I did with games back then. Yes -- they are absolutely stunning today. I truly enjoy them immensely. But the ability for me to pick up Contra or Ninja Gaiden and play the bejeezus out of them (either for 3 hours straight or at least 5 times a week for at least an hour each time during my peak) is telling, especially when I spend half the time on new-generation games. Metroid Prime is a perfect example -- it's by far easily the best videogame created since Final Fantasy VI (don't get your underpants in a knot, anti-Metroid fanhaters) and yet I just can't seem to, day after day, push myself to finish it. I'll go for 4 hours of intense, intense adventuring, put it down, then -- regardless of the fact that I enjoyed my experience at the time I was playing more than anything since 1995 -- be annoyed whenever I think about what's left to be done. It'll go back onto the shelf for months at a time.
Playing games today... it's like a chore sometimes, the way it is with the 3D Marios, Far Cry, Metal Gear Solid... your characters can do so much, go anywhere, and it's to the point where you have to make them do that much, you have to make them go everywhere. Is it laziness? Is it attention span? Surely not. I would go through Final Fantasy IV, VI, or IX in a heartbeat if I didn't have this long list of games to complete. Yet I still get frustrated at a random current-generation game and plop in Ikaruga after cursing for hours, even with the long list, as if I haven't learned my lesson yet. Why, as much as I want Tales of Symphonia, Xenosaga Eps. 1 & 2, and Baten Kaitos (Whoa -- didn't realize the Namco connection there. Scary.), I fear them and sometimes hope they get destroyed.
AND I DON'T KNOW EXACTLY WHY.
Why satisfaction so hard to come by in this generation is something that I must find out. Videogames have always been a form of art to me, and I cannot stop appreciating said art. I will find the answer. It's not complexity, but complexity has something to do with it. It's not the "advanced technology" but surely it has something to do with it. The length? Not all about it, but something to do with it. There is a key, here, hidden somewhere, and I must get to it and reverse this shameful condition that I'm currently in, or I may never be able to enjoy -- or share my enjoyment for -- a modern videogame ever again.
Ok, I can't let this be a WU without an Update. So here's a random bit for you -- Alex Navarro and Greg Kasavin have got to be my favorite reviewers from Gamespot. I'm not saying I agree with their scores all the time, but watch Alex's video reviews for a great laugh, and read Greg's reviews for an example of clear, cohesive writing, the kind that I wish I had.
Over and oot.
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