Archive for November 2011
I consider myself and my generation “on the cusp” of video game movements. On one hand, we grew up with classic consoles and as we continued to play, saw a surge of graphical enhancements, console wars, and “hardcore” games as we got older. Instead of seeing video games as childish like older generations or being spoiled on modern games like younger ones, we found ourselves growing just as quickly as the industry itself, watching as games fell in and out of favor and the community becoming more vibrant.
But because of the accelerated growth that occurred as we were becoming adults, what we feel nostalgic for can vary greatly. Today, for example, I got a strange urge to play Zombies Ate My Neighbors, the game my sister and I played non-stop and was my first co-op experience. That game still gets my vote for best zombie themed game ever. And later in my young life, when the Sega Genesis got old and newer, nicer consoles came out, I found myself talking about why the Dreamcast was better than the Playstation (still red-faced about that),then later still, being introduced to the seemingly endless world of Liberty City and muting GTA III anytime my mother was near.
With recent stellar releases, I think about the games I used to look forward to – reading “Nintendo Power,” ooing and awing over the high-end graphics of 4th and 5th gen consoles, puzzling over “conceptual” versions of the PS2. And at the same time, 5th grade and the birthday parties I went to. I think the accelerated growth of the industry colored my childhood in such a way that video games became standard, yet so full of wonder as I steeped myself in the culture.
And that changes the way I think about them now. They are not childish vestiges of imagination or even a disposable form of media. I take the games I love to heart because they have always been there for me – to explore, rampage, challenge, terrify, but most importantly, to instill a sense of awareness of my life and letting me look at things as they aren’t to appreciate things as they are.
When I bought Skyrim earlier this week, I brought a few old games to my closest major video game store to take advantage of an extra percentage of trade credit. Although I did get over half off the game for these old games, it made me think about the video game retail industry and how these stores thrive on the constant flow of patronage they receive and how ingrained they are, especially in console gaming.
I mainly buy from my local GameStop because of the trade benefits and deals on used games, but it seems like the business model is flawed. Since GameStop and EBGames get all of the profits for used games, the resell industry leaves the makers and publishers of the game out of that loop. While I’m sure this isn’t much a threat to bigger studios with headlining games, it really shirks the indie developers out of a pretty lucrative market.
Since there has been a drive (in my house at least) to buy, eat, and support local stores, I’ve been wondering if there are more “ethical” ways to buy games. Are there smaller vendors you like to buy from? Of course digital distribution on PC and consoles benefits the game makers the most, but as far as consumer cost, is this the most practical option?
Halloween always takes me back to my childhood. Although I loved dressing up and trick-r-treating, what I remember the most about the holiday is having sleepovers with my best friend, watching horror movies and playing scary video games. I recall actually feeling terrified as I played the first two Silent Hill games and took turns with the controller when my friend and I got stuck at certain parts.
Atmospheric games like the Silent Hill, Fatal Frame and to some extent, the Resident Evil series seem to have aspired to different standards than today’s horror games. Although each game has their own brand of fright and varying levels of violence, overt gore did not seem as necessary as it maybe today. Fatal Frame, most notably, relied on a camera as your main weapon and expanded on Japanese folk-tales to convey each games story. New horror series like Dead Space tend to accentuate the macabre and focuses mainly on “jump” scares, but did not stay with me the way scenes in Fatal Frame 2 did. While I enjoyed Dead Space and Dead Space 2, it was a much different experience than the puzzle and action mix of earlier horror games.
This makes me wonder if system limitations prevented extremely gory games from being produced during the last-gen console era, if ultra-violence is just “in” now, or if I’m just getting overly nostalgic in my old age. The lack of immersive, atmospheric gameplay with the current console generation severely limits the amount of truly frightening psychological games – trading in that experience for cheap scares by horrendous monsters with little in the way of story line. In many newer games, I haven’t been connected enough with any of the characters to feel anything for them.
Are there any newer or even forgotten games that have really scared you recently? I’ve been told I should play Amnesia: The Dark Descent by several people. If you have any suggestions, I would love to try them out.