Generations of Gamers

  • I've been trying to catch up on EZA series I don't usually watch due to time constraints like Dumb Game Monday, and Tabletop Escapades. The one I've been working on this week is the Q&A streams. I was listening to the August 2017 stream and some things Ben and Damiani said really made me think. I won't quote them exactly, but the question was regarding whether a great game can still be considered great if a bulk of it's appeal comes from nostalgia. Ben talked about how when some games enter the Hall of Greats, people question it because when they played it it didn't hold up to them. And about how people shouldn't assume their experience with a game will match up with everyone else's. Damiani talked about how not everyone had the privilege of playing certain games when they first came out and were relevant. He went on to say people shouldn't feel entitled to have that experience of when an older game was first released, and that you shouldn't hold your personal experience against the game; and that if a ton of people from an older generation are saying that a game is great, you should trust them.

    I guess these responses just rubbed me the wrong way. But I can understand where Ben and Damiani were coming from, I just wish they could have also examined the issue from a younger person's perspective. I understand that there were time constraints and that maybe there could have been a more complete discussion with more time, I just want to talk a bit about my perspective on the issue.

    I am what a lot of people in the gaming industry, or who have played games for a long time consider a young person. I feel awkward referring to myself as such since I'm 20 now, and a functioning adult, but I realize that I am on the younger side of gamers. At least the younger side of gamers who talk on forums or social media. My first console was a Playstation2, that for various reasons I didn't play very often. The first console I used regularly was the Nintendo DS and then the Wii. Even then, despite enjoying games very much. I only ever bought one game myself, everything else that I played was a gift. I never felt any real need to explore new games or genres. I stopped playing games when I was 13 or so and didn't start playing again until I was 16 or 17. And that was the first time I got serious about games. I remember making a conscious decision after I beat Pokemon Black 2 to play competitively and to become more involved in the Pokemon community, which would lead to me becoming more involved with games on the whole. I remember making an active decision to tune in to my first E3 stream in 2014. I remember right before I graduated high school, making an active decision to major in game design rather than fashion design like I had planned to my whole life, because I realized games made me happier than clothes did. So, the games that really shaped me as a gamer, the first games I made a choice to play and learn more about, are games I played in the past 3 or 4 years. In many senses, at the age of 20 I'm still going through my gaming formative years. I played my first action role playing games this year with Nier Automata and Horizon. My first strategy game was Fire Emblem Awakening. I played my first FPS 2 years ago. I played my first non-pokemon turn-based RPG 3 years ago. I'm about to play my first Final Fantasy game. I'm still learning a lot about different genres, and companies, and people in the industry. Almost every time I play a new game I have my first experience with a different mechanic. All these experiences are shaping my tastes in games. They're forming my views of what a game can be.

    But because most of my earliest gaming experiences are from the DS and Wii, those are the furthest back that I can feel nostalgic about a game. I don't love Super Mario 64, or Banjo Kazooie, or Ocarina of Time. I don't enjoy playing most games that came before the N64 era. The controls on those games have a responsiveness level that I'm not accustomed to, their graphics don't look charming to me in the way a game from the PS2 era does. That isn't to say I don't love any older games. Persona 2 Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment are tied with a a few other games for my favorite JRPG ever. Earthbound is one of those games that they are tied with. I love Majora's Mask, and A Link to The Past. There are games from every console generation that I enjoy. It's just that they'll never be my favorite. Even though I find some older games overall enjoyable, I still have big issues with a lot of them.

    Which is what brings me to my next point. There is a difference between saying a game is great, that a game is important to gaming history, or that a game is your favorite/holds personal significance to you, and saying that a game is better than something else. I acknowledge that Super Mario 64 is a well made, creative game that was important to gaming history and holds a special place in many people's hearts. That doesn't make it a better game than Galaxy or Odyssey though. I don't think you can conclusively say whether one game had better platforming, level design, movement, or music since that's very much up to personal preference. But I feel like you can conclusively say that Galaxy and Odyssey look better, that they have better cameras and. So for that reason I find it personally a bit confusing when people say that 64 is the best 3D Mario Game. Most important? Definitely. Most Popular? Probably. But the best? I don't think so. The thing a lot of people have to realize, is that if 64 came out today, exactly as it was, people would not like it as much as they do now. Gamers expect more polish these days. People who played it might think it was very fun to play, but I doubt that it would still be considered the best Mario game if it wasn't the first 3D one. And I'm fine with people thinking SM64 is the most important 3D Mario game. I agree. I'm fine with people saying it's the most revolutionary Nintendo game. That's definitely true. But to say it's better than Galaxy? Why? What does Galaxy do so much worse than 64 to the point that it's considered an inferior game? A lot of people think Galaxy is a great game, just not as good as 64. Which I think is a bit presumptuous to be honest. Galaxy is my 64. Galaxy was the first 3D game I ever played, it was the first 3D platformer I ever played. That mind blowing moment you had with 64 where you ran around in 3D space for the first time, I had with Galaxy. So, Galaxy will always be my favorite Mario game. It will always be the one I hold in highest regard. But that doesn't mean I'm going to tell kids who's first 3D game or first 3D platformer is Odyssey that Odyssey is inferior to Galaxy in any way. It would be one thing if there was a noticeable drop in quality and polish between 2 games. But that's just not true of the Mario series, and with a lot of other series as well. I don't thing Nintendo put less time and care in to Twilight Princess than they did Majora's Mask. I don't think Atlus slacked off on Persona 5.

    The issue with calling a game the best, is that implies other games aren't as good. And that might be true in some cases. Sometimes one game in a series is just of a much higher quality than the others. But with a lot of people's favorite series, that isn't the case. I remember being on a Twilight Princess fan forum right after I had played TP for the first time in like 2014. And at the time Twilight Princess was my favorite game. I said as much on this literal Twilight Princess fan forum, and people told me I wouldn't have TP as my favorite if I had played more classic games like Chrono Trigger. That's honestly pretty fucked up. I don't tell my little cousins that their favorite Disney Movies aren't as good as the ones I grew up with. What your favorite games are, are heavily determined by what stage of life you were in when you played them. More often than not, your first game in a series turns out to be your favorite. So, for that reason, it doesn't matter if I play Chrono Trigger; Pokemon Black 2, Twilight Princess, Okami, and Persona 3 are still always going to be among my favorite games. If I played Chrono Trigger and loved it, it wouldn't make love my current favorite games any less. And not having played older games like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VII, doesn't make my opinions on games any less valid. The only reason games are considered classics is because they've been around for a long time and because lots of people played them. One day Galaxy, Persona 5, The Last Guardian, Overwatch, Journey, and The Last Of Us, will probably be considered classics too. They just haven't been around long enough.

    I understand that it can be frustrating for people to not see all the amazing things that you see in your favorite games. It hurt when my baby cousins didn't like Kirby: Squeak Squad. But Squeak Squad is still a great game. Just because they don't like it doesn't make it any less important to me. I just have to understand that not everyone played games like Squeak Squad when they were considered cutting edge or just the norm. People have different expectations of games depending on where they are in life and where they are in their gaming journey.

    I guess the point I'm trying to make is that people should stop saying games from certain eras are better than others. Some old clunky game to you is full of treasured memories to someone else. Some basic game to you was revolutionary when it came out. So don't talk shit about older games, they might not be to your tastes, but they're still important to gaming history and to a lot of other people. This goes the other way too. Games that came after your favorite and that aren't as personally important to you or to gaming history on the whole are incredibly important to someone else. That game you think is uninovative blew someone else's mind when they played it for the first time. Every game is someone's first. So every game has people out there who love it and think its important. Don't belittle newer games (whether intentionally or not) by calling them less important or by calling an earlier game the definitive best in a series. And most importantly, don't belittle newer gamer's opinions just because they haven't played the classics. I know people younger than me, who haven't played games earlier than the PS3, who are more dedicated to gaming and game development than people who have been playing games since the NES era.

    Ah well. I said my piece. That's it. Also, to be clear, I'm not saying that Ben or Damiani in any way meant to belittle younger gamers, or say that newer games are bad. I know that's not true. I'm also not saying that I've encountered anyone on these forums who have belittled younger gamers or newer games. I'm mainly talking about my experience in the gaming community in a broader sense.