Here Come The Next-Gen Kids…
Maybe I’m just old now, but the very first time I heard someone say, without a hint of irony, almost insistently, that the Unreal Tournament announcer voice in Dota 2 originated from DotA (itself created by Icefrog together with a larger game called Warcraft III), I nearly flipped my shit in disbelief.
At that very point in time I knew exactly how collectors of contemporary classics felt when I had liked a book that was derivative of something like Catcher in the Rye, or to coin a gaming comparison, when I liked a game called BioShock for what it was, even though it was basically System Shock 2 again. Only it wasn’t, because Rapture is its own entity and that was the point of playing the game — getting lost in that dystopian world. Well, that and a certain message about narrative.
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Regardless, I understood how gamers older than me felt when I had made certain comparisons.
And now I’ve begun to notice that it’s happening again. As if it’s not bad enough that many younger gamers — bless their young and fragile minds — think that Call of Duty pioneered the FPS genre. What happened to playing old pixelated games and being happy that it was the best that things got? What happened to that awe-struck reaction you had to watching gibs happen in Quake? How far gone are we now, that gaming is so pristine and ideal that a game the likes of BioShock: Infinite for all its storytelling splendour, could be called mediocre in terms of gunplay?
It truly boggles my mind.
You know what else? It upsets me. It upsets me that not as many gamers of late have played games the likes of Dark Messiah, Freelancer and Dungeon Siege. It upsets me that nobody remembers what the first Fallout looks like. It upsets me also that even I don’t remember playing games the likes of Contra, King’s Quest and Escape from Monkey Island anymore. Further, it upsets me that more people haven’t played really bad games.
Because the thing about younger gamers is that there’s such a plethora of options available, and so many resources to get advice on what to buy, you would have to actively try to play a bad game these days. Now I’m not talking about disappointing or badly implemented games the likes of Battlefield 4 or The Last of Us (kidding), I’m talking about truly bad, repulsive examples of gaming the likes of Ride to Hell: Retribution, Blackwater, Bodycount and Rogue Warrior.
New gamers count in this as well, and I have had a column planned to talk about this so-called ‘easy way out’ for months now but fuck it. Let’s just get it out there. They get recommendations from their gaming friends, which is the right thing to do. But you know what? They never suffered through bad games. They don’t know what it’s like to play something truly terrible. So how can they possibly know when something is downright amazing?
Well, they’ll probably use the tried and trusted, “Does it look good? Are there guns? Okay, then it’s a 9/10 masterpiece.”
Now it could be argued by someone slightly too naive to be allowed to argue, that comparisons can’t really be drawn to long-time gamers because obviously we’ve had some time to sample the shit, but even we’ve missed a few really bad games. I for example, never played E.T. on Atari, and I’m sure there is someone reading this who has; those poor creatures. So yeah, you could say that we’re comparable because we also got away from some bad games, but the difference comes in with the amount of readily available resources available to gamers of today that wasn’t always as readily available when we were young and new to gaming, like so many gaming-gins out there. (No?)
Do you want to buy a game? Not sure about whether it’s worth it. Pull out your smartphone, go onto your favourite website, read the review, read other reviews if needed, check prices at other stores, make your decision. Or: Get a more experienced gamer friend (everyone has at least one) to do all of that for you and simply make a recommendation to you.
Easy as 1, 2, trophy.
I actually feel guilty sometimes, as someone who reviews games. When I walk into gaming stores now and I look at kids asking their parents to buy them games the likes of Kinect Rapala and Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour, I quietly move aside and let them make those mistakes because goddammit those children need some character building. We made mistakes when we were their age. I’ll never forget the shitty games I played through when I was that age; or that my slightly younger brother played Pimp My Ride because he was told it was a good game — something I still laugh at. It’s only fair that they get their turn now.
Yet we advise these generations on what to buy and what not to buy, posting review after opinion column after five-years-too-late critique (that’s mostly me) about every possible nuance of a particular game offering, to the point that it only takes half a brain now to get a decent game recommendation and so many people are playing games anyway that it’s impossible not to get great recommendations.
And yet at the same time it boggles my mind, once again, how genuinely good and not at all terrible games the likes of Lollipop Chainsaw and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning will fly so low under the radar that a year or two later nobody even remembers that the games existed until they’re mentioned. Yet I need only say the words ‘Call’, ‘of’ and ‘Duty’ and pants get tight with anticipation. But have you played Spec-Ops: The Line? Have you played The Walking Dead by Telltale Games? Have you even played BioShock, a now many years old game?
I guess this is what being old is like.