Press Released: The Golden Age

Press Released: The Golden Age

If gamers and developers would stop being negative for five minutes, says Sean Sands, they might notice that we're actually in a Golden Age of Gaming.

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To be honest, I couldn't disagree more. The AAA titles are typical and expected, the non-AAA titles are tredding the same ground that the AAA titles and, just barely, are we actually seeing anything new and interesting this gen. Everything else has been a safe bet.

Compared to what we've been seeing over the past few years, yeah, this stuff is spectacular. However, compared to what we've seen in the past... this stuff is just on par with the PSX/N64 era of gaming.

We see more crap than we do good games, and it's the constant sea of crap we've had over the past 5-6 years that makes those rare average games seem like gems.

This gen, so far we've seen about two games that weren't safe bets. Recently, Spore came out, an innovative game. Soon we'll see Mirrors Edge and that's about it. Almost every other game has a number in the title, which is a guaranteed 'safe' bet. Lets get with the new stuff already. All of these console FPS game are bad. All of these racing games are similar. RTS hasn't seen anything new in a good, long while. Lets get with the new.

This new golden age of gaming hasn't started yet. It's about to, but we are most definitally not in one now.

This really does beg for a definition of a golden era. Quality, obviously, but what kind? Is it more important to be thrilling long time gamers or to be enticing new ones? Is an entirely new type of game-play superior to an well-refined experience? Should games be evolving to include alternate media (e.g., movies, music, literature) or should games strive to exist as a standalone experience, impossible to replicate? Should the origins be more revered than their ancestors?

If you look at other creative endeavors, their heyday is usually linked to the number of people engaging in the activity, but also, interestingly enough, the amount of criticism the activity receives. Take a look at everything from ballroom dancing around the turn of the century to comic books, and now even to video games and social networking websites, and it seems that "golden eras" are usually ascribed to a point in which the number of participants rises dramatically, eventually inviting the wrath of traditional institutions.

I'd like to assert that the golden era of any activity is when its popularity increases enough to where the mainstream provides enough sustenance to the creators and allows more creative endeavors to thrive unpunished. In which case, it seems to me that we're definitely planting the seeds for a golden age of gaming.

Although, it seems to me that thirty years of existence isn't long enough for anything to have a golden age. :)

Golden Age is simply a term used to denote the climax of a medium's creative output. Golden Age of Comics, Golden Age of Television, Golden Age of Radio, etc. It's perfectly acceptable to have a Golden Age a bare thirty years into a medium. Television's Golden Age is supposedly from the 50s to the 60s (just years after Television supplanted radio), comics from the 30s to the end of the post-war period (almost literally the start of the "true" comic book), etc.

What Mr. Sands has pointed out is that video games are in the midst of producing not only a plethora of titles across multiple platforms, but that it's also producing a plethora of successful titles. Quality has nothing to do with it. Quality is often something that arises as a result of a medium's failings (for instance, comics developed serious quality during the mid-late 80s in an effort to overturn their lack of popularity).

I'm wary about calling the current age a Golden Age, however. I dunno if you can classify a Golden Age while in it. I think you threaten to jump the gun. However, only history will show us how accurate this assessment is.

HobbesMkii:
Quality has nothing to do with it. Quality is often something that arises as a result of a medium's failings (for instance, comics developed serious quality during the mid-late 80s in an effort to overturn their lack of popularity).

As I wrote, I was more concerned with what kind of quality is being considered. In that list of questions, one of them was concerned with whether success can be used to judge quality. I should also write that when I say quality, I'm referring to an assessment of value, rather than a definitional attribute. Nonetheless, I'm still not convinced as to what a "golden age" actually is.

HobbesMkii:

I'm wary about calling the current age a Golden Age, however. I dunno if you can classify a Golden Age while in it. I think you threaten to jump the gun. However, only history will show us how accurate this assessment is.

That was more along the lines of what I was going for with the 30 year comment, thanks Hobbes.

I don't know if we're yet in a Golden Age of Videogames, but I think we're getting pretty close.

It's true that more and more people are getting into video games - as the article pointed out, people of all ages are discovering the Wii and are actively enjoying games like Wii Sports.

There is still a rift, though, between the "core" and "casual" gamers (a rift which gamers have made themselves); when that rift is no more, when games are fully accepted as a unique form of entertainment, then I think we can say we have entered a Golden Age.

When cranky old farts like Roger Ebert get their kicks out of an involving game like Bioshock, then I think we have reached that goal.

Golden Age of gaming? Eh, maybe.

I would say that instead of a Golden Age, we had an extremely good year for games in 2007. One of the best years in gaming ever. If there is one thing that might get in the way of this being a Golden Age, it's the extreme lack of innovation and new ideas.

Well, if we look at actual golden ages in other popular media, we can pick out many characteristics:

Endless amounts of copying. In comic books, we have the classic characters like Superman, Batman, Wonder woman, but then we also have imitations to those characters. Anyone heard of Judy of the Jungle, American Eagle, Pyroman, Ibis the Invincible, Blue Beetle? Well, the last one for sure, but the others? Basically, for every memorable character, there were a dozen pretenders. In this era, every MMo tries to be World of Warcraft, every FPS wants to be Halo, every rpg owes something to Final Fantasy VII, every action game tries to copy God of War in some way.

On second thought, I would think this is Silver Age of video games. The consensus among comic book gee-erm "historians" is that the Silver age of Comics started with a recasting of the Flash. There was also an updated version of Green Lantern, The Atom, and Hawkman, and we are currently in the era of taking old characters and bringing them up to the current generation. Some characters made the transition smoothly, like Mario, and the Prince of Persia, others have not, Sonic anyone? Now there have been new characters in the silver age, so there is Master Chief, Kratos, and whoever.

I would say that the Golden Age was starting to end when the Doom Marine started shooting up the minions of Satan's army. The games I remember was in that little period from 1994-1998: Final Fantasy VI, Tekken 3, Final Fantasy VII, Tomb Raider, etc. It would say the new era officially began when Cloud was featured at the Superbowl in 1997, when we were all playing a misogynist, and right before Racoon City was destroy by a tactical strike. It was about this time when game developers were realizing that they could make money of these things. It was also the last time when developers actually took risks and released games that were not safe like Valkyrie Profile, Xenogears, and Chrono Cross. Those games were not safe picks by any stretch of the imagination.

Or, I might be wrong and the true golden age will begin when everyone who owns a computer will devote many hours to a second job they have to pay for. I'm almost there the Star Trek online is coming soon.

We may be in a Golden Age of gaming now, but seeds need time to sprout, and I believe things are going to take a nosedive within a decade. The credit crunch only really emerged half a year ago, and those successful titles are only so because they were properly marketed to claw back some profit.

With the exception of Spore and Little Big Planet, the future is set to be a spree of sequels and the pumping of yet more MMOs. Where's the inovation there?

The costs of producing games keeps going up, and the casual market is already awakened and not going to get much bigger; margins are set to get tighter, so it'll probably be a story of boom and bust in the end.

I agree with the article. There's so much whining all over the place, but I'm finding it harder and harder to find time to play all the awesome new games I want to play. And at $60 each, affording them is an obstacle also... but I wouldn't have that problem if there weren't more good games coming out now than in years past.

 

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