Monday, July 18, 2011

The Next Generation Of Gamers

First, I would like to commend the Japanese women's soccer team (sucks that the US lost but at least it was classy) and Christian Lopez, the guy who gave back Derek Jeter's 3000th hit HR for free (even though he has college loans and taxes to pay).  Sports are an inspirational time...for some of us anyway.

But otherwise, this has been the most boring day ever.  There's a stunning lack of news on anything gaming-related.  I mean, I really am at a loss of words to speak about.  I watched part of Talladega Nights with Ricky Bobby and that's it.  It's a funny movie though (if you disagree, just shut it).

Yesterday's another story.  I went to the Northshore Square Mall again just to check out what's up.  Seeing as it's a Saturday, there's the usual crowd there.  There are plans to rework the mall but they won't begin until I'm way gone to Florida.  After I took a stroll and ate an Auntie Anne's pretzel, I sat on a bench by the fountain staring at the palm trees.

But I came up with something to talk about as I sat there and watched the kids throw spare change in the fountain.  And that is the things that I like are becoming more antiquated.

I'm 23 years old.  I think it's weird to think that the games I grew up with such as Goldeneye, Daytona USA, arcade games, regular old Gameboy, PC games that took multiple floppy disks, etc. are almost things that belong in a museum.  Games that made well with limited graphics and with split-screen multiplayer.  New franchises all throughout the 90's and the early 00's.  The hype for realistic graphics was greater than ever.

Now, I just don't know.  Kids play games like Call of Duty, Halo, Left 4 Dead, Burnout, Need for Speed, World of Warcraft and that's life to them (not saying these games are bad...well, most of them anyway).  The Facebook/Twitter/iPhone generation.  It's kind of strange, almost obnoxious, to see the kids grow up, never having played a Nintendo 64 (EDIT: Or a Dreamcast) or used a dial-up connection.  Like some of the magic was lost in transition.  Back then, you made it through with less.  Graphics weren't as good, but the devs made it happen anyway.  Like watching old action flicks without all the unimaginative CGI crap.  Nowadays, you just blow a big budget on some fancy hardware and 500+ man studio and half the damn planet buys it and everything is "good."

On the other hand, you can say you're older than I (preferrably over 30 years) and say you grew up with Atari, Game & Watch, text-based adventures, etc.  True, but more the reason to be annoyed by this current generation of games.

They say that the average age of a gamer, as of 2011, is 35 (which I admit is ridiculous).  If by gamers you mean the 70-year-old retirees who casually play Wii Bowling in their free time (which offset the angry 15-year-olds on Xbox Live), then I guess that flies with you talking heads.  Take a look at this GameFAQs poll on March 9, 2011.  Apparently, 14-30 year olds make up 90% of the GameFAQs voters.  That's your "hardcore" gaming base there--the ones most knowledgeable over decades of games.  Casuals don't "count" since they don't know as much as us diehards.

Speaking of which, how many kids know who Ralph Baer is?  You know, the "old guy" who essentially put video games on the map in the 70's?  Next time you meet a kid who thinks they know s*** about games, ask them that question.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that for the next generation's sake, us "veterans" of video games have to salvage what was once magnificent or dignified of our generation so we can tell others who will tell others and so forth.  Then maybe we'll get more "young people" on our side.  Besides, one of the points of history is so that people know what worked and what didn't (like the Atari market "crash").  I'm not saying that we should just throw out all technology and revert back to the NES era.  But maybe we can salvage a future of M-rated grey-scale FPSes, "everybody wins" hold-your-hand story modes, and other crap gimmicks like jumping in front of a TV to accomplish menial tasks...the kind of stuff kids are used to these days.

See's Top 5 Crucial Lessons I Learned From Watching Kids Play Games...which is basically play games that let you automatically "win," skip story/cutscenes/grinding, and blow up everything.  Well, they're kids--wait until they grow up and crave interactive movies in the form of games.  Games that involve blowing stuff up no doubt.  So apparently: convoluted story + big explosions = orgasm.

Thankfully, by looking at the older GameFAQs age polls (like this one from 1999), you see that the ages were much younger (13-24 made up 80%) so many gamers from the 80's-90's are still hanging around, ready to educate the young kids.  And we're getting ports/remakes/emulators of old games so you can't say these kids DON'T have access to old games...

Then again, this whole idea of the next generation being worse than this one isn't new.  Just trying to infuse some retro goodness in this generation, that's all.  The good stuff that is, not the dreck like all those games the Angry Video Game Nerd makes a mockery of.  Hey, we can use this new technology to our advantage (like, uh...this).  But even with this technology, things that were great (like video games) can turn to crap--like the Ozymandias poem:

And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'

And as long as nostalgic gamers are around, at least the game industry retains a shred of credibility.  Otherwise, we are doomed.



  1. Hi Eric, there are still developers who produce games in the old style, ie titles that only appeal to a certain audience. SNK Playmore and the various 'schmup' games made by small companies are examples of this. I also wouldn't worry too much about what the younger generation are playing; during my Street Fighter days (early 90's) I had little time for older games either. Most kids are interested in the here and now - it's something they can feel is 'theirs' and separates them from the older generations.

    Speaking of older games I've just competed in a litte Crazy Taxi competition.

  2. That's interesting, but I'm not interested in forcing kids to play old games; just let them know about it. Nice Crazy Taxi runs BTW.