I have a secret. You know all the times I’ve mentioned my NES? Well, it’s not because I’m some minimalist, older is inherently better, classic-game-o-phile.
The truth of it is, I “stepped away from gaming” for a few years. Between the lack of desire to shell out another few hundred dollars for a SNES by my parents (and me, as I didn’t have that kind of cash) and my difficult workload in high school and the university, I just didn’t have the access or time.
Sure, I took my NES to my dorm room, and was quite popular for it, but that didn’t exactly keep me up-to-date. I also played the occasional game on the computer, but upon discovering that it took my Sim approximately one hour to walk from the kitchen to the bathroom, yelling and grumbling at me the entire way about needing to relieve herself, I was done. I had enough stress in my life without having to worry about a slow-moving videogame toon.
And then, access was restored. I found myself in a relationship with someone who also enjoyed videogames. Upon hitting this critical mass of two previously-avid-gamers, each lacking a gaming console, we decided we should procure a Playstation 2. Excited to get back into a pastime I looked back on with fondness, I researched titles, talked to Electronics Boutique clerks and found a game I was pretty sure I would like. I was set.
Then a strange thing happened.
I looked at the controller. Whatever happened to the two buttons and Directional-pad that controlled 95% of the game? There were now four buttons where there were once two. There were little joystick-thingies and a D-pad. Plus, there were these weird trigger-like “shoulder buttons” or some such.
Overwhelmed, I turned the controller over to my then-boyfriend and said, “I’ll watch. You control. I have no idea what all that’s for.” We played the game. It was fun. But when we broke up a year or so later, I let him keep the Playstation 2.
Since then, I have plunged back into the gaming pool, owning my very own Playstation 2 and playing the occasional Xbox and PC game. But how many others out there stuck a toe into the pool and came away, never to return?
Gamers and designers alike have felt disenfranchised in one way or another by the unforgiving march of Time. And that is what this issue of The Escapist is about. Max Steele returns to tell of a recent conversation with gaming great Chris Crawford. Spanner takes us on a trip down memory lane, to a back alley arcade. Joe Blancato gives insight to the believer and fanatic found in all gamers, no matter how they might hide this under a hard, cynical exterior. Join us for another week’s issue of The Escapist.