216: The Curious Case Of Me Jammin' Buttons

The Curious Case Of Me Jammin' Buttons

Games have started to lose their luster for at least one crotchety 31-year-old. But Graeme Virtue has a plan - to evoke his most poignant gaming memories in reverse and (hopefully) arrive at the moment where it all began.

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I have the same memory... The bad soldiers come, Kermit is there, and then they kick him and he's gone.

Oh my god.

"Mummy, a naked American man stole my balloons!"

But going back to the main point of the article: that last bit nicely captures that magic moment when you discover something you'll love for years. Hope you get your mojo back soon.

If you were a true player, you would've found a way to get Lucky Strike girl into Lara's shorts.

For Halloween or something, y'know? Dress up.

Very good article, it feels as if its nostalgia level is well above 9000.

That last passage brought back such good memories.

This is so recognizable, and heartbreaking... I'm the same age as Graeme. Here's to lost hours and dreams. Cheers!

I'm 47 and I'm not tired of games yet! I do have to change the type of game every once in a while. I played mostly FPS's for years, now its rockband. I still play Fallout 3 quite often, too.

As a lifetime gamer of the age of 26, I could mention similar experiences for almost all that apart from the doctors visit.

It was my Dad that got me into gaming though, via King's Quest and Maths Adventure, and an old Atari with about 500 games of which only about a dozen were worth playing.

I'm 34 and am developing the same sense of disillusionment with gaming. I LOVE gaming, but I don't get the same sense of joy playing games as I once used to. I constantly think back to earlier times where my joy was pure.

I've been a Apple IIe\Amiga 500\PC gamer and never touched a console so my memories are different, but the feelings are exactly the same. When I was 24 I played Thief so much I started to unconsciously walk in the shadows all the time.

Going even earlier back it was Deux Ex, The Bard's Tale, Wasteland and Ultima III and IV.

I've been thinking a lot in the last few years about why I don't enjoy gaming as much as I used to and I've come up with a few explanations.

- Familiarity -

A lot of content in our culture is rehashed over and over again by the media (and now gaming companies). I still enjoy watching films if there is some spectacle to them, but I've seen them almost all before. Not the exact same film, but something so close to it it doesn't matter. You know how the plots going to out play out, and you're sitting there saying, "Oh yes, here's the next action\fight\love interest scene". I pray for something to surprise me, even if it fails in the attempt.

Gaming has become like that for me to an extent. There are only so many FPS games you can play before they all blur together, RPGs with the same quests, RTSs with the same mechanics. In addition, the lack of innovation due to the expense of risk taking is exacerbating the problem. I mean it's not just the same game mechanic, it's the same game with a new roman numeral on the end and a higher polygon count.

I've started scouring indie games just to find something different that I haven't played before.

- Lack Of Time For Long Gaming Sessions -

I also no longer have time for extended gaming sessions. I work as a software architect and have a young daughter, and between spending time with my wife, my daughter, my job and doing the never ending housework, there is only a bit of time left to play games.

More importantly, there is almost no time for those 6+ hour gaming sessions that you could play when you were younger. And I think it's those sessions that are the key to the experiences we crave. Even if I get my hands on a great game (e.g. the first third of BioShock), I can only play in one or two hour sessions. It breaks the immersion, and so the game becomes more about the game mechanic (nothing special) and less about the story experience (which was special). It's only when my best friend comes back from overseas and my wife takes care of our daughter for a day, that my friend and I will sit down and game for a big block of time.

What do other people think? Are they having the same experience as they grow older?

my gaming started on the n64 then i suppose it was the pc games then i had a x box (i had the crystal version whoot, midtown madness 3 ftw) and i was brought back to the pc from my experience of a wii even though i only got a laptop wow has brought me to the supreme gaming experience the almighty gaming pc, however as i look back its all thanks to my first few games on mario 64 that was one damm good game and then it was LOZ orcania of time, and ofc i've forgotten the gameboy colour i had the purple one i must have used hundreds of batteries playing pokemon blue which i was stuck on for 2 months yes i know its sad but I was only 5, one of the best presents i ever got was that xmas 98 my own machine that took me into the world of gaming , so Nintendo u have both gave me faith and given me reason not to have faith, suppose it balances out really

and to the less gaming as u get older idea, ive been playing more as i get older but prob cz i have got my own consoles instead of having to play on others and share, but once i get a job and start studying again i suppose the long sessions will all but end

I'm not even in my 20s, but like you I have only LIKED this generation's games. Unless we are counting the Wii, in which case I LOVED Mario Galaxy and Twilight Princess.

Granted, there are a few big-name games of this generation I have yet to play. But, as an example, I did play two games that got the rare perfect 10 score from a gazillion websites and magazines: GTAIV and MGS4. I liked both a lot. I did not love them. I did not love GTAIV like I did Vice City, and I did not love MGS4 the way I loved MGS and MGS3.

And I think it has to do with this generation's emphasis on realism. Realistic gameplay should not replace fun gameplay. Realistic visuals and story should not always replace fun visuals and story. Anyway, I'm not saying that this generation is inferior to the previous gens, as only time will tell, but for me it feels that way. Unless you're heavily into shooters, this has been a very sparse and poor generation. The only big innovation so far has been Gears of War's cover system, which has been endlessly imitated since. Motion control, which everyone thought would be this generation's biggest innovation, has yet to prove itself as superior to a normal controller.

topraman517:
And I think it has to do with this generation's emphasis on realism.

I think spectacle is an easy sell to a less experienced crowd (we all get a bit hyped when a beautiful screenshot is posted for a game), and it's only after a longer time gaming that you start to crave gameplay over graphical fidelity. But good graphics sell...and a screenshot is a much easier thing to showcase to the buyers (and financial backers) than an explanation of how all the intricately crafted gameplay elements meld together into a compelling experience.

I go through phases with gaming, I always game but once in while I'll only play a couple of hours a week and I'll spend most of my time reading books or comics then I'll get some game that will suck me back in and I'll be playing 6 games at once. While I live with my girlfriend who is total non-gamer, our work schedules our different so I have plenty of time for gaming when I want it.

Hehe, nice article, it was a nice read. Great job on the title, by the way.

I guess every honest gamer has already felt that way at some point. I too feel sometimes like I am stuck between a grind and a fun time with some games. Mostly they just keep me alive as my Sundays are usually the type of "worst free day imaginable" as I get usually nothing done and feel abysmolly lousy then.

During these days it is sure to feel like one can only still "like" a game when it used to be his most favourite desire. But I guess that comes with the aditional freedoms and accessability to a game. As for now I have had endless ammounts of time until a few weeks ago and I spent all the time trying to escape the boredom.

Yet by occasion the spirits of past come back to life as you just relax and enjoy a game simply out of the pure fact you don't do it because you have nothing else to do, but the feeling that you simply CAN do as you please.

And remembering back at my early years when I begged to my dad to let me sit down on our old C64 and let me play the games which all over were entertaining to just "play" without the pressure of getting anywhere as I used to be unable to beat most of them and usually had little to no idea how to do better in them. I just dropped in the chair, programmed the old box to eat up the disc and deliver my an hour of flashy, interactive fun.

A nice story all together. I sure hope that you will find your magical moments once again. And I am sure you will. Just keep on with it, but also take a break if you wish. No need to make everything a grind now. ;)

I liked the way the writing style "regressed" as the article went back in time. Reminds me of reading James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man back in high school, only this was better because it wasn't excessively long, exceptionally boring, or absolutely pointless.

games became shit after 2005, it might be the consumerism. one thing is for sure thou, simplicity is not enough(unless you combine it with story of some sort). ports/remakes fo games like pong,tetris or space invaders are boring to current players(unles it's a mobile thingy<maybe,possibly>).
In reaction to some of the coments i must say the biggest surprises and instant classics are casual games,but they wield epic power, i can name few: tasty planet, R.I.P. series, final drive nitro, heli attack series, thing thing series,(obviously) world of ogoo, and the professional version of fisho type of game I had a demo of(I forgot it's name,but it was 10 on scale of awesomness,if anyone knows the name, pls respond).

Slackenerny:

Snip

I'm 33, and I don't have the same problem. My gaming has waxed and waned some over the years, but only due to the amount of time I could dedicate to it. My wife and I don't have a kid... yet (we've been trying for a year) but when we do, I know my gaming will be severely limited. My current job is not as demanding as my old one (but it pays more... nice) but it does involve more travel. Thanks to my old job, I developed the mentality of leaving work at work.

So I think the time factor does have something to do with the lack of interest, but I would not say that it is quality of games. Many people our age tend to look back with rose colored glasses. Yes there were some great games in our past... but there was also a lot of crap. I can look back on games like Freespace 2, Planescape Torment, Baldur's Gate, Starcraft and Diablo and smile. But I can also remember more than one rotten egg as well (Pool of Radiance anyone).

The problem is that the gaming industry has changed and us seasoned veterans have probably seen it all before. The industry is much more mainstream so many games are made to appeal to the masses and not the gamer (insert Wii here). However, you can still find games that will either show you something a little new or pull on those memory strings for us oldies. Punchout for Wii was just a trip down memory lane, and a good one at that. Street Fighter 4 just reminded me how much I suck at SF. But there are new games that as a seasoned gamer have really caught my eye. Dead Space was the most emersive game I think I have ever played. Assassin's Creed was excelent. Mirror's Edge was newish, but frustrating. Bioshock... obviously. I do love Gears because it is mindless fun. Mass Effect was the first decent RPG I have played in a while. And I am regaining my love for turn based RPG's with Lost Odyssey. Yes there are so many games that are just copies of copies and this is just a sign of the maturing of the industry. But as the technology and inovation improve, more impressive gaming experiences will emerge (I will site Shadow of the Colossus).

But how long will this last for us (the oldies)? When I have a child... is my gaming essentially over? I have two friends that have recently had kids. One still games pretty regularly (we enjoy some L4D or Gears together at least twice a week) and the other's Xbox is a paperweight. Only time will tell.

I do hope that I will be able to continue gaming. I am actually looking forward to the day when my kid is old enough to play something like Gears or L4D and we can play together. Until then we can race and crash in something like Burnout Paradise... I hope.

Hmm. I still have those moments that make me glad I started gaming, but they haven't been as common lately.

Slackenerny - I think I'm in the same boat that you're describing, and I agree on your two main points. Familiarity I think is the biggest issue, the appeal to games to me was entirely placed on novelty. I don't get the same joy out of playing my favorite old games of yesteryear, but they pleasantly tweak a bit of nostalgia when I briefly fire them up. Dramatically new game mechanics, especially genres, are hard to come by nowadays. But when I come across something truly novel to me, my gaming passion is renewed to the fullest...the last time I distinctly remember this happening was playing Burnout 3: Takedown. After playing driving games for over 2 decades, you could now spectacularly take out your opponents with extreme prejudice. My gaming fire burned bright and obsessively, and this "new" combination of unrealistic speed and road rage was perfect. To me, this was a shining example of how games could still be novel, even after some 30 years of gaming had jaded me to many of the "new" tweaks to existing gameplay mechanics. There is untapped potential out there, it's just much rarer to come by these days.

Slackenerny:
More importantly, there is almost no time for those 6+ hour gaming sessions that you could play when you were younger. And I think it's those sessions that are the key to the experiences we crave. Even if I get my hands on a great game (e.g. the first third of BioShock), I can only play in one or two hour sessions. It breaks the immersion, and so the game becomes more about the game mechanic (nothing special) and less about the story experience (which was special).

QTF, man. Since I left college and started the "adult" life, gaming became much less about story. Now I get my story enjoyment from books and the occasionally excellent TV show (like BSG) and just play, mostly, multiplayer games.

The reason I still love games is no longer for the immersion, but the for the opportunity to have fun with my friends.

wgreer25:
us seasoned veterans have probably seen it all before.

I'm also a 30 year old gamer, I've been a gamer since I can remember myself, learned English from sierra games and math from little quiz apps my dad programed. And this quote above got me thinking. I know I spent a lot of time on video games over the years, a LOT.
Could it be that because how time heavy this hobby is we have actually logged in a much greater number of hours then a movie-buff has watching movies or a musician has listening to music.
I can't do the math here, as I don't know whats the average game time compared to other hobbies, but it feels right.

oMonarca:
Since I left college and started the "adult" life, gaming became much less about story. Now I get my story enjoyment from books and the occasionally excellent TV show (like BSG) and just play, mostly, multiplayer games. The reason I still love games is no longer for the immersion, but the for the opportunity to have fun with my friends.

It's interesting to hear you say this, as I'm exactly the same way. Even though my childhood is littered with the joys of deep story-based gaming, I almost always play on-line multiplayer games like TF2 and L4D now. I can play for an hour and have a great gaming experience with my friends or just in a pick-up game. This type of gaming gives me the most reward with the short time I have available.

wgreer25:
But how long will this last for us (the oldies)? When I have a child... is my gaming essentially over? I have two friends that have recently had kids. One still games pretty regularly (we enjoy some L4D or Gears together at least twice a week) and the other's Xbox is a paperweight. Only time will tell.

I do hope that I will be able to continue gaming. I am actually looking forward to the day when my kid is old enough to play something like Gears or L4D and we can play together. Until then we can race and crash in something like Burnout Paradise... I hope.

While you definately have less time to game with children, it's a lot of fun to share it with them. I'm very proud of my 3 year old daughter earning an OCD achievement in World of Goo while I was washing up. She's got some leet mouse skills. :)

Great read. I really can't empathise with you much because I'm still a young'un, but that article was still really good.

 

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