There are some days, when the bright edge of the sun has faded beyond the horizon, and my only luminance is the soft, bewitching glow of my monitor, where I sit, and I think, and I muse upon things that by and large can only be categorized as Totally Irrelevant. But lately I've been wondering on the state of games as we know them today compared to games as they were even ten, fifteen years ago. This is not some kind of Word on High upon the Good Old Days, or how everything was Golden and Candy Ran Liquid From The Heavens And Yea, The People Rejoiced, but something has changed
, something elemental
that differentiates the games of our respective childhoods and the games of today. I personally don't like the change.
It seems like games are no longer games for the sake of being Fun, they aspire to be Art or to Legitimize the Medium, or in Rockstar's case, Shock the Masses. Maybe it's just the increasing realism, and grittiness of the games we play, the increasing complexity driving us into what is becoming an overall less reflexive, more intellectual, and more immersive pursuit. So, where are the games that still remember that they are, in fact, games? I'm weary of seeing game after game overstuffed with melodrama and anti-heroes, and short-sheeted on all of the things that used to captivate us about the games of yesteryear.
We have games that span universes now, the KOTORs, the Mass Effects, Halos and others, but are there many games anymore that you can honestly say touch you in that special place that games like Earthbound did/have/can/will? I enjoy a serious game as much as the next person, but I mourn the death of the innocent, good-natured game. What we've been experiencing lately is a deluge of the sinister, Bioshock's menacing landscape filled with horrific aberrations, Portal's insane AI and the general inkling along even the earliest of stages that something isn't quite right here, Halo 3's...Halo 3.
While all of the above are stellar games, I can't say any one of them gave me anything I would describe as pure delight. Where's that feeling like a glow of warmth deep in your heart that spreads from fingertip to fingertip, the kind of feeling that no matter what's going on, it makes you smile despite yourself? I miss that feeling, to me it was the pure, unblemished element of what a game was, or what it should be. Zork, Crystal Caves, Commander Keen, even Ghosts n' Goblins (inbetween bouts of me bleeding from the eyes as my brain tried valiantly to escape its housing), Earthbound, Golden Axe, Duke Nukem, all incredibly simplistic games, but ones that gave and still give me that fuzzy feeling inside.
Are all these considered "Kiddy Games" now? I guess they might be, but it seems that now anything without a heart exploding out someone's throat and rolling around on the ground, guided by arterial thrusts like a miniature jet as the person's still living body jerks a ragtime jig is somehow considered beneath a gamer's notice.
I applaud the games now that can be complex without making the game feel like a Goddamn Job, and I applaud the games that can be "Mature" but not exercises in self-depression, dissertations on the self-supposed Horrors of the Human Condition. But again, something unquantifiable has been lost here, and it's just a little sad. It seems like a purer, more innocent fun was sacrificed for the impassioned "Aw hells yeah" that you get from games like God of War while beating a Harpy to death with its own wings. I still get glimmers of that lustrous feeling from games like Paper Mario, Katamari Damacy, Okami to name the few
and the far
Am I right, or am I so wrong that whatever kind of beverage you found yourself partaking in wound up shooting out your nose in two violent, angry spurts?
What was the most recent game that you've played that filled you with that giddy, airy childlike wonder? read