The Plight of the Aging Gamer

By: Jordan Binder

A little mood setting music ;).

Getting old is unnerving. It's even worse when you're a gamer. For those like myself, who have been playing games for as long as they could walk, it's hard accepting that an era of gaming is over. Nostalgia hits hard when I hear that my first home console, the Nintendo 64, is a retro device--a relic from a bygone era when games felt more fun to play.

You're my one and only, baby.

The video game industry is undoubtedly in a better place than ever in terms of pushing the technological limits and having widespread appeal. With better graphics, more fans, and more talent working in this space than ever before, no one should be disappointing with today's offerings, right? Wrong. Gaming today lacks the passion and risk that drove the industry's greatest companies forward. Today, they fill that void with shoddy gameplay, extreme annualization practices and appeals to their bewildering shareholders. Triple A developers' fears of not meeting their bottom lines have ousted the more common practices of quality control and entertainment that we saw in the days of pixels and low-res polygons. The proof is unfortunately in the mobile market pudding, as esteemed franchises are being subjected to Bejewled-like games for easy pay-to-play money.

 Source:  iDigitalTimes
Does this look fun to you? Me neither.

From an aesthetic point of view, it is hard to not drool over the pixel art of the past. The fidelity games reach today is uncanny, to the point where you can practically see sweat coming off Lara Croft's face. This is all well and good, but for whatever reason this makes me all the more nostalgic of the days where every animation and landscape was painstakingly crafted, pixel by pixel, until you had a beautiful work of art completely distinct from reality.

 Source:  SonicStadium

Source: SonicStadium

Ooooooh yeah. That's what i'm talking about.

While it may be a farcical notion, it feels as if games have lost their charm from the time I got my Game Boy Color to now. There have been games released recently that have riveted my senses and left me in awe, such as The Last of Us, Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Shovel Knight, but on the whole games feel less magical and less captivating. I am aware that this is likely due to the fact that I am not a child anymore and am less enthralled in my 5th iteration of The Legend of Zelda than I was with the first. It is an unfortunate reality that those of us who continue to play games face. Fewer and fewer games capture that magic we long to experience, and there's a sinking feeling every time I realize I've lost interest in the medium completely--albeit that loss is always temporarily.

Shovel knight reinvigorated my love for 2-D platformers and the classic style games used to have.

I don't blame anyone for the current state of video gaming. I am cognizant of the fact that when a medium begins to have a decades-long history, things will shift in unsavory ways. I am mature enough to see that big companies still have the satisfaction of their fans among their core values. Their strategies into new markets are often a means of bringing in the market-share needed to continue funding ground-breaking flagship titles. It's just saddening that, overall, it comes at the price of those most loyal to the medium. I do not doubt that more games will bring back the vigor and enthusiasm I had when blowing dust off my cartridges; it's just a shame that it ever left in the first place.

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You don't get to cry, Peach. you've been the same age since 1981.