Where Hast Mine Passion Gone
I struggle these days to get too excited about most videogames. I know as someone who refers to himself as a gamer, and who writes about videogames this is a bit of a strange issue to have. It just seems as though with each passing year, I am progressively less stoked about the lineup of new games the world has to offer. I have tried to pin down a few reasons as to why this might be.
1) I am old.
2) I don't actually enjoy playing videogames anymore, I am just obsessed with the culture.
3) Games are worse than they used to be.
The first reason is possibly a bit tough to figure, being as I am 22 years old. That being said, I drink on average about 9 cups of tea a day, I don't think I can name a popular music artist from the last 5 years, and at least once a week I wake up and my legs hurt for no discernible reason. I have to squint to see things, I pull my back four times a month, and my mood is more or less entirely dependent on how many times the West Wing was on TV during the day.
That being said I did grow up in a different gaming generation. The most current console I had up until the age of 13 was a Sega Genesis. We tend to be over protective of the things we grew up loving.
I am like this with basketball. Unsurprisingly, my favourite player growing up was Michael Jordan, so when people make statements regarding Lebron James being a superior player, I tend to get into less than diplomatic exchanges with said individuals.
I have been known to resort to a "Call me in 5 Championships" or two in my day. I am sure like me, many of you who grew up on the NES or any number of retro consoles tend to have a soft spot for the old games and systems from your childhood.
My wise friend Julian suggested this second concept. I think I probably spend more time checking the Joystiq app on my phone, or reading articles on Gameological Society than I do playing games.
I talk tirelessly about them, I am constantly thinking about them, but the most recent game I can recall purchasing and playing is probably the London Olympic game. You are absolutely free to judge me on that, I do however offer no apologies.
Gamers have very highly honed defense mechanisms. Most of us have spent large periods of our lives defending a medium we think is misunderstood and under appreciated. This has become etched in our DNA. I have such passion and strong opinions regarding the gaming world, that even if it were so that I no longer even really enjoyed playing them, I would in all likelihood be physically unable to stop my cultural obsession.
I feel like this idea falters however because of the fact that I don't enjoy the games I love any less than I used to. I still have as much fun playing Contra as I did 10 years ago. I have a library full of games that I will continue to play through, and continue to enjoy.
This leads us to our final possibility which is the argument that games aren't as good today as they were even as recently as seven or eight years ago. This could also tie into the being old and crotchety argument. Games used to be fun. When did graphics become the only thing that mattered? Why is a 12 year old so much better than me at Call of Duty?
In one sense the idea that games are worse now is completely absurd. Games are more expansive than ever. There are beautiful and massively rendered game worlds, there is more emphasis now on story and character development. We have seen some genuinely great voice acting, we have seen remarkably intuitive and tight mechanics, to say games are worse nowadays would be stubborn and insane.
What I think seems more apparent however is that videogames are rarely being made to appeal to me any more. Gaming has been pushed to the center of public consciousness. It's the most prevalent we have seen the medium since the early 70's arcade explosion. Developers are well aware of the fact that the vast majority of people prefer throwing birds at pigs than playing text based graphical adventures.
This in my opinion is perfectly acceptable. IOS and Android are currently the most desirable platforms for game development. Developing games on these platforms are generally inexpensive, and provide a much larger market to draw from than the home consoles. Microsoft and Sony have ventured into the casual gaming markets as well. I personally have no interest in the Kinect. I like to game on my couch. The less movement the better in my opinion. The most popular game on Kinect is a dancing game. I hate dancing. It is one of my three least favourite things in the world. I fully acknowledge that some people, disturbing as it is, actually enjoy dancing. I think gamers maybe tend to feel betrayed by the industry. I suppose this is understandable, but I don't particularly begrudge anyone for trying to appeal to the biggest audience possible. I tend to think just about everyone is a gamer, they just need the appropriate game to unleash that inner fury, and just because something isn't for me does not mean that it is terrible. Except for dancing. Dancing is terrible.
I suppose what it comes down to is that I do miss the days where I would thumb through a PC Gamer Magazine and be awestruck by what seemed like every game that was being previewed. It would be nice to be that passionate about games once again, but at the same time there is very little in general that gets me really stewing in my boots.
There is still the occasional game that really makes me tick, reminds me why I have invested so much time and thought into the medium. I also know that my copy of Mike Tyson's Punch Out is not going anywhere. At no point will it magically morph into a Black Ops II Death Match. It will permanently stay exactly the way I want it to. We often try to replace what we have, but rarely are we happy with the return.
Some of you may also wonder what happened to your gaming mojo, and why your feelings towards games tend to be flaccid and uninspired. I don't really know why at the end of the day I'm so disinterested. That however can be added to a laundry list of things I don't have much of a clue about. I know that the games I love are on the shelf, to be played whenever I see fit, to be forever the game I fell in love with. Maybe in a month or a year something will come around that will tickle my fancy, maybe something will get me excited about the future of gaming, perhaps we are going to enter an age soon where videogames continuously blow my mind once again. But if not, Little Mac will keep me company, and what good company indeed.