So, I was reading through this months shipment of game magazines today, when I read through a letter sent to the staff at Game Informer; basically, in one of their older issues, they had a little quiz where they asked who the playable character was in the second Donkey Kong game. Obviously, the answer was “Donkey Kong, Jr.” A reader sent in a “correction” stating that the playable characters in the second Donkey Kong game were Diddy and Dixie Kong. GI did a great job of not insulting the reader, while trying to educate them as to what game they were <I>actually</I> referring to (1983’s <I>Donkey Kong, Jr.</I>, not 1995’s <I>Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest</I>).
This brought up an interesting thought in my mind… as us older gamers continue to get older, and a newer generation of gamers take hold, the definition of “classic” gaming is continuing to change. What’s more, the experience that we older gamers had is completely foreign to newer gamers. While they understand the idea of seeing a film in a theater and then waiting months for a DVD release, they don’t understand that the game industry was once the same way (playing a game in an arcade, then waiting months or years for a flawed console translation). Now, new games immediately come out on consoles, looking as good or better than they could in arcades.
Gone are the days when $10 meant that you could play 40 different games in the span of a week. Now, $10 will barely get you a used copy of a Mary Kate & Ashley Olson game, and you probably won’t like it anyway, and end up trading it in for $3 toward something else. I’m not sure if I think the current state of things is in any way <I>worse</I> than they were before (there are certainly advantages; longer and more epic gameplay, a multitude of releases year round, etc, etc), but I do have a sort of longing for the way things were before… Games were simpler, and you didn’t have to play through a two-hour tutorial just to know how to play; the two-inch-by-five-inch square sticker on the cabinet was enough to get you going.
I’m not sure what my point is with all this. I guess I’m just asking if other people feel this same way. Is my generation over in the gaming world, despite only having become old enough to buy booze a few years ago? They say that games are getting older and more mature, but then why is it that, despite my young age, I feel that my prime was years ago? Even the franchises that I grew up loving are interesting me less and less (Mario Sunshine did nothing for me, I have to fight myself to accept the 3D gameplay of Metroid Prime, I grew bored waiting for Link to sail the open seas of Wind Waker, and I’m not all that sure that I’m interested in the upcoming <I>Twilight Princess</I>). The few games that I do take time to play today are either retro-styled (like <I>New Super Mario Bros</I> or <I>Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow</I>), are short enough that I can finish them in a few sittings (survival horrors), or are mindless diversions (puzzle games, <I>Brain Age</I>). The few RPGs that I can muster up the energy to make it all the way through these days are few and far between (Star Ocean, Ys VI, and DQ8 are the only ones in recent memory that I recall truly enjoying). Ironically, though, I have no problem replaying RPGs that I’ve finished dozens of times (I recently replayed DQ3 and Earthbound on my SNES, and FFIV on GBA).
So, I guess what I’m asking is is the game industry truly changing to market itself towards someone else, or am I simply outgrowing my hardcore gaming habit?