Reflections of a Retired Gamer by archeopterix2680

I said in my first journal entry that I never kept or cared about online blogs/vlogs etc. But since this seems to be the era of blogging and it's after mdnight, my laptop's video card has bit epic dust and I'm bored, I guess I may as well get with the times.
This journal is concerns my years as a gamer. I was a gamer before 'gaming' was recognized as a thing. Back then we all just called it 'playing Nintendo.'. That was back when Nintendo was called 'Nintendo', not NES, 'classic NES' 'classic nintendo' or 'the Nintendo Entertainment System'. Which it was and is-but nobody called it that. It was back when playing video games wasn't a sport, didn't get you scholarships, and didn't cause you to get cyberbullied and or stalked. Nobody paid you to beta test them-companies had their own employees for that. They came in catridges and later on CDs, not online clouds. They were not onnected to the World Wide Web which was in its embryonic Stages in any event. This was back before 'it's a' me' was an annoying meme and before awfully crafted 70 dollar metal wall hanger versions of Link's Master Sword were available.
So if you haven't figured it out by now I'm talking about the 8 bit and 16 bit eras. I'm fortunately not tipping my hand as to how old I am because I already confessed as much in my profile. So here goes then. I'd like to say something gritty and poignant about the old days of gaming being that I was THERE, but, it probably won't be.

First off why do I call myself a retired gamer? Simple. I used to put in probably 5+ hours day playing video games. I acknowledge that this is probably on the low end nowadays but in those days it was enough to get you labeled a bona fide Nintendo Player. Which was what a gamer was called in those days since by and large Nintendo was the digital drug of choice. My brother and friends and I sometines spent up to eight hours a day playing video games. Sometimes the SAME game!

So I have been a gamer. When I was young and the eight bit systems were the rage playing a game was about adventure and new experieces and sensations. It was about playing for hours on end to reach the next level to lay eyes on a world you'd never seen before. It was about connecting with the hero and sharing his sense of determination to rid the world of the evil. And most of all it was about how the corners of your eyes got moist when 2 years after you unwrapped that little rectangular package on Christmas eve you finally came to the end. Not when you reached the game over screen when your 3 continues ran out but when you finally watched the ultimate boss perish in a storm of explosions. You knew the journey was finally over. It was kind of like saying good bye to an old friend. You knew you could play it again for years but it just wouldn't be the same. It was an experience. An adventure. I remember when my Graddad, God rest his soul, bought my brother and I our first copy of The Guardian Legend. I was seven and he was six. It cost seventy dollars and was a reward for keeping our grades up. On his meat cutter's salary 70 dollars was not a pittance. We had been watching the commercial for weeks. It was released by the powerhouse video game company Broderbund along with Irem. In those days video game commercials weren't just 30 seconds of recorded game play with a Gary Jules cover of Tears for Fears music overlaid on them. They were known and talked about by kids. But I digress. The first thing we noticed was the art was phenomenal. The cover art was amazing, the manual art was amazing. But the first thing that REALLY blew me away was when we seated the cartridge in the console and pushed the power button: the intro music was breath taking. It reached out and slapped me in the face- but in a good way if that were possible. It was in STEREO! In 1987 on an 8 bit system. The graphics were avant garde as well. If any of you read this who played the game in those days for the first time you know exactly what I'm talking about. The game was and is my all time favorite to this day. One of the things that left the greatest impression on me as a young gamer was the game's first message room. The first message read 'I hope that this message will never be read by anyone. It will mean that I have failed.'. Things like that stick with you for a lifetime. There are a thousand other such instances I could write about. Rescuing Super Joe for the first time on Bionic Commando. Getting to the third floor on Milon's Secret Castle. Fighting the giant frog on Blaster Master. I could fill a whole other journal with them. I remember when years ago in Star Tropics you had to activate the computer robot on the sub to progress. You had to enter a 3 digit numeric code. To find the code you wet one page of the instruction manual to reveal a hidden message. We were playing a rental copy and the page was missing so we had to call customer support. We were given the code in about five minutes. Game producers no longer interact with their fans in that way. Instead what we get are in-game microtransactions that add injury to the insult of exploitive game mechanics. In the Nintendo era that wouldn't be legal but In this ultra greed driven corporatist society we live in this is not only tolerated but seen as a viable marketing strategy.
There is a a peculiar phenomenon happening among kids these days. (Kids to me being people below the age of 27.). It seems that 'retro' gaming is quite a thing with the Millenials. Retro!? You're talking about a pretty big piece of my hisfory there, kid! I was gaming before your mama said 'I do!'. But never the less we have these poser imitators of 8 bit games like Minecraft out there. Minecraft is no more an 8 bit gsme than I'm King Solomon. Try doing that stuff on a true 8 bit system! And then you have movies like Wreck-It Ralph and Pixels lampooning us. Were these written by people that actually were around when these games were released? Or were they written by a bunch of college kids? I wonder. I also hate seeing these teenage kids wearing these Nintendo Controller shirts that say 'Know your roots'. It's like a form of stolen valor. Downloading Nesticle in 2012 and playing Casflevania for the first time doesn't mean you were there any more than a casual stroll through a war museum makes you a Vietnam vet. Take if from this old-timer. We aren't impressed.

Clearly gaming was a big part of my life. So why do I call myself 'retired' gamer instead of gamer? Because by and large I no longer bother with fhem. Why? Lack of interest and overall quality. The gaming experience entered its death throes for me towards the late nineties. Legions of overtly anime-esque RPGs with their grossly exaggerated featured characters with outlandish clothes, and weapons- and outlandish plots. Games spawning sequels-of-sequels-of-sequels. Gigantic, 3 minute long attack animations which were virtually scenematic scenes. And when the attack is over? Fifty hit points or is so is all the damage it does? Then you have the flashy graphics and over the top soundtracks perormed by full symphonies which are for the most part forgettable and nowhere near as as inspiring or memorable as the older games'. Plot and story quality sacrificed for flashy rendering effects to appeal to an ever more lowbrow audience. Replay value replaced by hours of frustrating and stultifying side quests designed to bait compulsive players into continuing to play. Subscription fees. Cheating. Trolls. Sequels full of repetitive game play. The seminal genre of scrolling shooter replaced with the hackneyed FPS. AND ZOMBIES. A favorite of today's jaded audience. Kill as many zombies as you can. Plot is negligible as it really doesn't matter. Anything with zombies will do. The sense of wonder and discovery of classic games is reduced to a 'gamer score' and a handfull of trivial 'achievements'. You wait a year for the game to come out, play it till you beat it then never touch it again and repeat the cycle for the sequel to grt more of the same.
The video game experience of yesteryear is dead. Instead of ever more new and original content we have legions of 'apps' which are all more of the same. Many low quality and not worth having, programmed by amateurs. So bad is the repetition in gaming that even one of videogaming's founding fathers- David Crane - said he couldn't be sure if there would be another videogame market crash.
I doubt it. Videogames are too entrenched in our society for that anymore. They're far too obsessed over. Taken too seriously. As teenagers we played videogames at night after we heated and flattened steel pipes and then beat the hell out of each other's knuckles with them. Videogames have gone beyond being simple pastimes. They've become a creed; a way of life. People sometimes spend more hours playing videogames tha working. There are those of us who fear that this is detrimental. What is going to happen when a whole generation sets its sights on a career of professional gaming? Society will shut down as nothing else gets done.

The videogame experience has flown by and left me coughing on a cloud of nostalgic dust. My interests have changed greatly over the years so I'm not without a way to while away those late nights. Of course all this is really just a symptom of a greater syndrome: I'm getting old. At least at thirty-five I feel like it.
And so what about those rare occasions I want to shed a few nostalgic tears? Well....thank God for emulators!

Reflections of a Retired Gamer


17 November 2015 at 05:00:51 MST

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    I hope that somebody WILL read this lousy journal entry. It took me. 3 hours to write on this piece of junk phone.

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    Oh and, please PLEASE don't don't write me a comment or note asking me if The Guardian Legend has something to do eith OWLS. Straight up- it doesn't. Not a thing. I'm just gonna go ahead and put that out there.

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    I was never as big of a gamer as a few of my friends and maybe even my fiance (that I met on ICQ looking for people local to my boarding school in the 90's that liked Final Fantasy lol I was a net nerd and chatter) But I really was a gamer looking back. I had a personal computer well before that time. I mean this was when most families had one computer. I had my own, my dad had his own, and many more for his company. (Electronics, manufacturing, we're all super broke now, but then, it meant being rich) I played zork then, and hitchhikers guide. Now I had a early serial Nintendo, I still do, I moved over 16 times with it. In those moves I lost a lot of my games. My mom sorta did I mean " lost them" but I had a few that had stayed with me. My babysitter was a male teen, or college student. He used to come over to play all the games (hello bonus to being paid) and I would be running around being a terror or game with him. He also used to watch VHS tapes of macross subtitled. I was in 3rd grade around then. I was correcting everyone when robotech finally hit my generation. I was really into Mega Man 2 and 3, and I mean I was playing them so much, renting them from the rental place down the road so much that when they closed, they gave me the copies because they said I about paid for it in my rentals. I went from that to a playstation though. I mean a brief introduction to the 64 in there, which came with mario kart, and my mom bought it basically, for zelda, for me. I wouldn't even open other presents, I was already setting it up after a huge shriek. I can still play that game with my eyes closed about. I got the next one, hated it, hated the rumble pack, hated that I traded in better rpgs for those two things and honestly didn't even play goldeneye, I just went direct to playstation. It had a mod chip my dad installed, and my sister lived in Japan leaving it behind so I usually had games before release here when she brought rips home. I had to play them with a stack of paper with translations on them. xenogears, ddr, ff8, I had a lot of stuff before it hit here. I played a lot of games, but I wasn't into the "standards" like doom, or diablo, and I get a super pile of crap for not liking mmos when that rolled around, or really liking computer games as a "console player" which is how millennials casually try to call you trash I guess? So I like a what? But anyways. Retro Gaming. Oh my what a fad "nernerner, its so its low budget/trash art and can focus on the story like the old games" no. Actually. Its not. For one those games...retro haha wipes tear like actual classic, games, had huge budgets. If they really wanted a retro game "focused on the story" if would be a good game all around because the bit rate was all they had. The retro game movement is a marketing fad. It's pandering to nostalgia but also to the kiddos. My fiance likes that stuff though, but he is a gamer, went to school for game music, and is learning coding to make his own from scratch as a hobby....but like I mean like cabs, arcade stick boxes in the house and a testing console tv for the classic systems.... I have a lot to cover going from nintendo to playstation. So he digs in the box and says "I think you might get mad playing this one, but I think you will like it" (I get mad and yell a lot) I was the kid that didn't know how to play sonic and would try to make myself scarce when people were offering the controller. I felt terrible that I was judged by the games everyone played but I could whoop their asses in timeplay. Even now, I hear all the time "are you near the end?" "You'd been playing for 25 hours and you are only here?" I play the hell out of a game. I only replay really fun games. I get shit for not liking undertale. I thought it was a pile of marketing dung, and I never got into minecraft, or any of those games. So I get what you say in these journals, but it makes me remember how I was called "not a real gamer" for not playing everything and ha, well, for being concerned with my looks (read pretty. I still get judged as a lipstick gamer because of genetics what the hell man) by my own generation of gamers. Its a weird bygone time but its now this prideful culture.

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    Wow. Your reply is almost half the length of my post! Which is okay for sure. I suspected nobody was really interested in these musings. Milennials throw the term 'console gaming' and its associated pejorative attitudes around because as I stated above, they're bitter about not having been a part of video gaming when it WAS in its real golden age. They're a bitter generation. Videogames are a staggering industry these days so naturally they think gaming is currently at its high point. They lack the discernment to see that they're the targets of what's devolved into a mere corporate cash-in. I won't rehash all that since I discussed it above. But by simply eating the low quality gruel the gamig companies feed them they're complicit in not making things better. Their low-brow approach to gaming subject matter means gaming itself us in decline if even, ironically, the market is trending upwards. Even David Crane, one of THE fathers of modern gaming has speculated that there could be another videogame market crash. Time will tell. I've mustered out of that army a long time ago and am no longer on active reserve. I put my controller down and picked up a Dremel. As for Milennials sneering at us they know in their hearts that modern gaming is just a soulless money making scheme they're enslaved to and they'll never have what we had. They know it, so let them sneer. We know....