Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Musing ~ I feel old

Mario before his makeover.
Found this game on Kotaku. Geek Mind takes screen captures of a multitude of random games and gives you 60 seconds to name as many as you can. It gives you a mix of both newer titles and old school games. Like old school in the 80's games. Go ahead and give it a try. Keep in mind that you need to type out your answer so spelling and spacing DO count. AND you have to guess the correct version. So if you see a Mario game, you need to give the correct number (1, 2, 3, etc.) that corresponds to the picture.

It made me wonder, how many of those individuals who read Kotaku are able to guess the games that pre-date 1995, if at all. Unfortunately, if you're over 22 (but under 30), you're part of the old school gaming crowd. You come from a time when the Super Nintendo was the coolest thing on the block and the Sega was super expensive, but if you had one, you were a bad ass. Mortal Kombat was the epitome of violent video gaming, and we were all in shock when 3d rendering began to happen. Some of us have played with an NES, maybe even an Atari. We knew well of our forefathers such as PacMan and Frogger. We use to play in arcades and had these things called cartridges that contained our gaming data. >.> Ok those are still around, but I don't think people understand the technology behind those DS blocks of plastic.

And after reading Kotaku, it was easy to figure out that most of the audience is probably under the after of 18, unable to name the images in the above flash game from Super Mario Bros, Kid Icarus. Even the original Metal Gear Solid. But they could name the Call of Duty Modern Warfare with ease.

If you don't know what this is, you are too young.
Kids, it's time you went through a class on video game history. You all have it way too easy these days with your fancy 3d and bloom. We had 8-bit Link and the jump to 32 bit was astounding. Games back then were about two things: story and fun. If you didn't incorporate both, you failed at making a game. Now, it's about the fancy graphics. I'm not paying $59.99 for a game just for the pretty pictures. Which is probably why so many bad games do so well. We need to rebuild the foundation of gaming for today's youth. They need to understand where gaming began and why it has developed into the industry that exists now.

Maybe it's an elitist perspective. But it feels that the history is being buried amongst the here and now. The past has a way of repeating itself, and I fear that we may end up with another blowup. Such as what happened in the 80's. If you're old enough to remember that is. At one point, the gaming market got so big, that the bubble burst, so to speak. You know the joke of companies dumping unsold games in a desert? That really did happen. The market on gaming tanked and no one thought that the industry would survive. But out of that failure, a resurgence of games with story, games with heart emerged. That's what we need to teach children. The importance of a story. Otherwise, we're going to run into the same mess again.

So for those who don't know what a CalicoVision, a VirtuaBoy, or Ralph Baer, or Kings Quest, I'd recommend reviewing the following:

Wikipedia's History of Video Games. Best summary of the industry's existence.
GameSpot complete history. This one gives a more in-depth timeline of how video games began.
PBS: The Video Game Revolution. PBS has done a series of documentaries about the subject. Crazy, right? But it gives a different, and more academic, perspective to the gaming world.
Google Timeline. A simple overview of some of the main points of gaming history.

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