Saturday, December 20, 2014

5 Cool Aspects About Gaming That Are Fading Away

Gaming is a hobby that involves a lot of cool things that that enhance your enjoyment as a gamer be it by yourself or with a bunch of friends. It all seems awesome until you realize that many of those enhancers have been lost in this day and age due to an ever changing market and society. Today we are going to see 5 of them so without further ado, lets get to them.

Mordecai and Rigby Playing

1) Epic long term collective gaming campaigns:
Most of us are probably able to remember the times when a group of friends got hooked with a game and spent a very long time religiously playing and basically making it part of their lives. You may be thinking about mmorpgs, but it doesn't have to be limited to those kinds of games. For example, back in the 16 bit era, all the kids in the neighborhood where I live (myself as a kid included) got hooked with several games through very long time periods. Games like Super Mario World, Sonic the Hedgehog, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Phantasy Star IV, Zombies Ate My Neighbors were some of those titles that managed to keep everybody playing and sharing ideas, all with the goal of beating the game and/or unlocking its secrets. At the time it was sort of special to receive a visit from one of your friends early on a Saturday morning because they finally figured out how to beat a stage or where to find that secret treasure, a special experience that later on was well converted into online gaming. Of course we weren't stuck with playing the same game 100% of our time, but our main one always remained at the top of our list for months and months.

Nowadays it is all different. Ask yourself when was the last time you and your friends (or contacts) dedicated themselves to a certain game for a period longer than let's say 3 weeks. In this day and age, games are released so close to one another that just when you started to get hooked to one game, everybody changes to another, breaking all cohesion in a matter of hours. This happens because when we see a bunch of new games all released at once (especially since they chose Tuesday to be standard day for game releases) we tend to want to try them all and in the end choose one to keep on playing. What happens after that is that in all the commotion of who is playing what, there is a great chance that you and your friends will end up hooked to different games so that means that you will not be sharing so much play time as you used to. This is unless you can convince others to come play the same game with you, but that seems sort of unnatural because playing one game while been hooked with another is not that fun.

Juste Belmont
This is Juste Belmont from Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (2002). At that time
everybody saw him as an awesome looking character, but this same character today may be
labeled as "weird", "unrealistic" or "pale dude that looks like a woman".
2) Content Relativity
Another thing to remember were the times when anything in a game was plausible. There were no boundaries between what looked "too much like a cartoon" and what looked "realistic". A long time ago, a game character or game world could be cool in whatever form they used to show it and things like surrealism, emotion and even wackiness were welcomed with open arms. Things were so simple back then, that characters and game worlds came in just two flavors, awesome or lame.

Nowadays is all about nitpicking. The mainstream gaming community has too many people that have big prejudices against certain types of game content. For them anime style characters are "weird",  a skinny hero with long hair is "emo" and other times they classify characters and environments as "not having enough realism". It is also worth noting how characters now are labeled as if they were real human beings. Stuff like "that character looks too (insert race, nationality or physical characteristic)" or the occasional "omg that is so prejudiced" are the kind of attitudes that are dominant right now, even though they are a sign of disrespect for the artists who are behind a game, especially when the vision behind the art is justified by either the story or game elements. We have to once again learn to see fiction for what it is and not mix it up with reality in such a negative way. This changes the whole ball game for those of us who see that aspect of gaming as something simple and makes us feel left out when gaming companies decide to appeal to the nitpickers.

Game releases then and now

3) Convenient Releases
Once upon a time, games were released on different days without a specific pattern. At some times they would coincide, but in most cases game releases used to be all over and such randomness was good for us gamers. There was also a trend of favoring weekend game releases (a thing that Nintendo still does) which was perfect for anybody who had responsibilities like school, college or work. Had you even been through the experience of been at college/school and finding out that some game you were interested about has released that very same day? Most of the time that piece of information turned a normal routine afternoon into a road trip and that was part of the beauty within all the chaos of the game release schedules of old.

In our present day we as gamers are plagued by a game release standard that is good for retailers, but horrible for us consumers. Most games and updates are released on Tuesdays while a very small group of new releases are unleashed to the public on other days (like Nintendo releasing their games on Fridays and some companies that release on Sundays in special occasions). This puts a lot of pressure on us and makes the whole world of gaming a lot less comfortable.

Videogame community then and now

4) Gaming been something separate from real life and society.
It may be a little difficult for some gamers (especially younger generations) to believe, but there was a point in time where gaming had nothing to do with real life problems. Censors existed back then just like they do now and extremely violent games were indeed a topic of discussion, but there was no real emphasis in things like political correctness or protesting because some aspect of a game resembles a social flaw from real life. Back then, a game was just a completely fictional world, an escape from our daily routines and not something to judge based on your opinion on how society should be. People enjoyed games without mixing it up all with things like sexism, misogyny, racism, profiling and bad stuff like that. Things were a lot simple because we as gamers didn't need any of those complications and we were a lot happier without all the unnecessary controversy.

Nowadays the whole gaming world has become a social battlefield where every game is heavily scrutinized in the search for anything that might "offend" someone. This has gone so far, that even when a game is just announced and still months from been released, if it has even one "offensive" indication (regardless of how dull the argument is) the outrage starts and heads begin to roll as the so called "activists" start spreading the same hate they so much claim to be against.

Console wars of the past

5) Fun fan boy wars
Fanboyism is something that is hated now, but it used to be quite fun in the past. The reason for this is that fan boys of the past battled with facts rather than just saying "boo hoo your platform sucks". From the 16 bit wars up to the Dreamcast vs PS2 showdown, battles were fought, won and lost, but they were very far from been a whine-fest. When 2 gamers started an argument about two or more different platforms most of the people who were witnessing it actually learned something because facts and strong arguments were used in the crossfire and each side understood which were their strengths and weaknesses. There was no "meh" attitude and best of all, there were no labels or personal insults, making a "fan boy" discussion to be just a smart discussion between two or more people with a biased opinion.

Nowadays the closest we will get to those smart discussions is seen pictures comparing a game between two platforms without even taking into account the technicalities that can cause those difficulties and the hurdles that the developers had to go through in order to make the game. It almost seems as if the gaming media itself is helping cause these whine-fests in order to receive more visits and clicks. Sadly no matter how heated a modern fan boy conversation gets, it is very unlikely to learn anything other than clever ways to whine or how to ruin a sarcastic remark by been a poor snub.

The Gamertologist Bottom Line:
These 5 gaming aspects are just a few of the whole lot of things that we are slowly losing as gamers. You may see all this as a nostalgic mind trip, but believe me when I tell you that this is more about how comfortable, simple and convenient the gaming world used to be in the past, supported by facts rather than by nostalgic thoughts. Do we have a chance to stop all this and get back the things that we have lost? I leave that for you to judge.

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