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Barefoot. In The Snow. Uphill Both Ways!

Written by Jeremy Yates

I remember watching a buddy of mine play one of those GTA games for the PS2.  I wasn’t paying much attention, as the game just wasn’t up my alley.  However, his reactions to the game were pretty amusing. I admit finding it pretty humorous myself;  mainly the radio stations and its fake ads. I recall one ad raving about a mighty blue square defeating the evil red square. It must have been GTA: Vice City since both VC and the type of  game advertised took place in the 80s. Since we are both from that generation, the laughter ensued. We both began to reminisce about the truth of that fake ad. Games are now graphically stunning compared to the industry’s infantile stages. Nowadays, it’s becoming more difficult to tell if youre watching TV or a game.

He continued to play and we began to discuss our memories of the older days. When 8-bit was king, we never even heard the term “personal computer”, or “internet”, cell phones required a suitcase to transport, and Michael Jackson was black. For a couple of old gamers, nothing beats talking, doting, or arguing about those times;  especially with no one else around to point out that we’re being nerds. This is a tradition that has also evolved with the times. Now we have channels on TV that are dedicated to the topic of gaming, as well as magazines, internet forums and all the other various forms taken.

Our discussion wasnt about the 80s, but rather the video games from that era. All you had was a concept and graphics that were enough to help spark your imagination a little further than what was seen, read, or heard on the screen. It was a simple combination, albeit a powerful one. Even if the game was bad, it was still played into circuit dust. They were replayed, over and over, even after actions were done flawlessly and mindlessly. We played. We imagined. We dreamed.

Look at us now. Where is that magic? How much of our imagination do we even use with current games? How often do you insert a disc in complete anticipation and wonderment? Instead, its almost like we play only to complain and be disappointed for the dozenth time this year. Sure, we might get some excitement, but let me ask you older folk; does it really feel like it used to? Do you play a game with sparkles in your eyes and never use the net to get past a part youre now stuck on? Or rather, just hurry up and finish the game already, because there are so many more to finish? Are you playing in a desensitized manner because the graphics, sound, and voice acting are doing all the brain work? I’m sure you get the point.

What upsets me the most is seeing the classics mutate into their current forms. They no longer possess that magic and seem to degrade with additions to graphics, voice, gimmicks, and etc. Due to classics being rehashed over and again, most of us beat a modern, much longer sequel on first play-through; something we couldn’t do so easily with the old original. The worst part, for me, is lack of interest in a replay.  Exploration is seemingly becoming lesser a need to both gamer and developer.  Sometimes we would rather get to the next checkpoint or save spot than visit every hidden corner.  The need to go off the beaten path is distracted and sometimes completely ignored.  Many have told me they rather not go out collecting flags for no reason, or go find trinkets in dangerous areas that unlock pictures in the title menu.  Traveling over-world maps is morphed into point and
click location markers and only furthers the desire to seriously explore a thing of the past.

With certain franchises, the story is used up or simply too far fetched from where the original was.  Its getting more difficult to tell a compelling, deep story that isn’t already predictable or already told in another form.  Instead, we are immersed in flashier graphics and Hollywood style effects.

There are exceptions, of course, and many current games blow my mind.  However, those are usually a new series or stand alone game.  They might not fascinate me like the classics of yore; they are just different in that manner. To each their own, I suppose. Do not misread me, though; I love where gaming is going but wish to see the roots preserved and honored by newer generations. I hope that today youth can find the same magic in today’s games as the older generation did in its 8 bit and 32 bit days.  It has been a long road of progression from those olden times to our current HD 720p discs.  While we are thankful for what we have now,  let us not forget where it all
originated.

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