Friday, 30 October 2009

The Wildest Video Game Dreams of Our Youth

I would like to think that I'm the kind of person who doesn't take things for granted. When things are going well, I tend to reflect upon it as much as I can. When things are going bad, I feel I have no regrets as I truly got as much enjoyment out of the good things as possible and still try to think of everything that's still good. They say "you don't know that you've got till it's gone", but not me. Nuh-uh. I relish what I've got with gay abandon, sometimes with aplomb. So, whenever I turn my Xbox 360 on, I gaze in wonder at just what a fantastic machine it really is, especially when looking back at the consoles of yesteryear.

The first thing that greets me when I turn my Xbox 360 on is that crystal clear, gloriously HD logo. I haven't got the best HD TV by any means, but it still shits its entire ass onto any previous TVs I've owned. Then, it's onto the dashboard, and goddamn, if that isn't a wonder to behold, too. I mean, think back to a year ago, to a time when we never had any of this; we've now got streaming news vids, tips, interviews, and a pair of emo dudes trying to be funny. We've also got much better friend interaction now, what with the party chat and avatars. Even just having Live Friends is something we didn't have 4 years ago, now it seems weird to think back to a time when social console gaming was merely a footnote on the possibilities of future consoles. I didn't even have Xbox Live a mere 2 years ago, let alone 4. To say I couldn't live without it would probably be an exaggeration, but to say I would miss it awfully if I didn't have it is completely accurate.

While that last paragraph may have read like some kind of forced Microsoftian propaganda, I can assure you it's not. It's just me doing what I do and knowing what I've got. When I indulge myself in the solitariness of past gaming consoles, it truly feels like there's something missing. I miss the little announcements of people popping online and seeing that Isis88 is a Level 15 something-or-other on Fallout 3, or that ZZKoverts always seems to be playing Tales of Vesperia. It's just nice to know that you're all still alive and that you're not at work, you're just chilling at home playing some video games.

It's almost like something from the wildest video game dreams of our youth. I've recently been playing Smackdown Vs. Raw 2010 and thinking back to playing WWF No Mercy on the Nintendo 64 and enjoying it immensely, but thinking of how awesome it would be to be able to give your custom wrestler his own custom tattoo, custom music, custom entrance, custom video, custom finishing move and all other kinds of shit that is actually in SVR 2010. If you'd have given me this game 10 years or so ago, I probably would have spaffed and shit my pants simultaneously. Due to the technical constraints of the N64, it was naught but a pipe-dream, but the tech has advanced enough to make it possible.

Say what you will about the Wii, but Nintendo's philosophy of 'technology doesn't equal better games' has been proved wrong by dozens of games on the immensely powerful PS3 and 360. It is not and has never been about the having the best graphics, it's about having the best game and then getting the best graphics you can muster out of the hardware, as done in the last generation by the GTA games. They're not the prettiest games of their generation, but they withhold a dizzying amount of content for the player and they sold by the bucket-load, also proving that amazing graphics won't guarantee you a number one spot on the sales charts.

With all this technology, we've got it incredibly good at the moment. It's easy to forget this when something goes wrong, when you get kicked out of party chat for the tenth time in an hour, or when your internets play up. I'm not saying whenever something like that happens you should sit back and quell your anger and just be happy with what you've got, because it's a fucking frustration when such a thing happens. I'm just saying that every now and then, just breathe it all in and try not to take it for granted.

Discuss this article on the forum.


james™ said...

It's far, FAR too easy - and commonplace - for gamers to be so elitist and cynical and miserable that they forget how amazing the current gaming scene truly is. Thinking back to the days of the Vic 20 and loading from tapes and using POKES~! to cheat, it's incredible to think how extraordinary the technology, creativity and sociability of gaming has become.

Indeed, just the fact that videogames are now an accepted part of social interaction, rather than the decidedly looked-down-upon network of social outcasts it was seen as just a few years ago, is something that never ceases to amaze me. Sure, I have to thank Sony for that, which irks me, and along with it come the connotations of casual gaming and soulless licensed product dialed up to nine, but it's a price I'm happy to pay.

Now that the Xbox is integrating social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter, along with the digital delivery of movies and music, the concept of an all-in-one entertainment hub that was so spectacular stalled by the likes of CDTV and 3D0 seems to finally be on our doorsteps. What the next few years will do to gaming, and online social networking in general, just makes my head explode.