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Five Reasons There’s Never Been A Golden Age of Gaming

Five Reasons There's Never Been A Golden Age of Gaming

Today’s industry is nothing but first person shooters!

It’s hard to argue with this one, because there is some truth to it. Yes, we have way too many first person shooter games nowadays, and, I admit, I love shooters. I played “Doom” religiously and even purchased the “Demon Gate CD” which contained “666 levels.” In fact, some of those levels were adult rated and showed innocent me pictures of naked chicks. Yes, “Doom” introduced me to porn. But, whenever I hear this line, another one is usually added talking about how creative games were back then. By stating such an ignorant statement, I can’t help but say that these people simply weren’t there.

Back then, there were only three noteworthy genres; platformers, shooters (vertical and side-scrollers), and beat-’em-ups. Sure, there were other genres, like fighting games (“Street Fighter 2″ comes to mind), and sports games (anything by EA), however, in terms of quantity, they were eclipsed by these three genres.

Take a look at the platformers: a lot of them were used to promote company mascots and movie licenses. Beat -’em-ups were considered the ultimate co-op experience with your friends. And shooters were the best way to test one’s reflexes. Don’t get me wrong here, I love these genres, but to say that today’s industry is nothing but a handful of shooters and RPGs, yet preach about how great things were in the 90s isn’t going to garner you any respect.

Fortunately, with the introduction of 3D visuals in the mid-90s, games became a little bit more creative due to the advancement of a third dimension. But these games were still in their primal state, and saying they were “the best” due to being the first to pioneer the technology is a rather stupid thing to say (hi “Ocarina of Time” fans!).

Besides that, first or third person shooters are our new platformer. Back then, you were on a 2D plane, and saw your character at his/her/its side. Now, you are in a 3D environment and all you ever see your character’s ass, or through their eyes. In other words, the only major change was the inevitable evolution of technology.

The Nintendo Seal of Quality meant something.

One of the most common misconceptions about the history of video games was the quality of the games. You’ll hear phases like “It was about the gameplay, not the graphics” and “we weren’t so marketable so they had create unique games.”

This is an incredibly silly argument because it assumes that developers were intentionally holding back on graphics to make a good game. What really happened is developers had to work within many limitations, and were forced to work around them in order to create a profitable product. You’d think developers would still create games with a small number of sprites if the NES had no flickering issues?

As for creativity, again, that’s another myth spawned by people who weren’t even alive in that era, or people with their nostalgic glasses on too tight. Much like today, games in the past were knock-offs of one another; “Streets of Rage” was “Final Fight,” “Mortal Kombat” was “Street Fighter,” and the numerous animal-related platformers were “Sonic.” (I still remember the ad for the unreleased “Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill” starring the Clinton’s pet cat.) And, since we are on the subject of creativity, do you think a games like “ICO,” “Flower,” and “Shadow of the Colossus” would have survived in the early to mid-90s?

Quality is a subjective matter, but some of the key factors that make a great game are its length, design, and replayability. I’ve already explained that most games in that era didn’t last long and had no replay value, but design? One needs to remember, when talking about the games of the past, that the designs for most of them were simplistic at best. Besides the memory and hardware limitations, the controls themselves were rather limited as well. The original NES and Sega Master only had two action buttons, the Sega Genesis had three, and the Super Nintendo had six; which is one of the reasons why it wasn’t until the PlayStation when developers started creating more complicated games.

The reason I bring design up is because many retro gamers swoon about how great games were back then. When you look at them in more a subjective matter, one cannot deny that most of these games were pretty much just experiments for what the future might hold. Let’s take a look at “Mario 64.” Yes, it was one of the first well-done 3D platformers, and was, initially, the driving force behind the Nintendo 64’s sales. However, when “Mario Galaxy” was released, it refined the mechanics of the previous title yet “hardcore gamers” still claim that “Mario 64″ was the better of the two. As for “Zelda” fans, “Ocarina of Time” versus “Twilight Princess.” “OoT” started it, and “Twilight” improved it many ways, yet the nostalgic gamers prefer the older title despite the glaring improvements.

To even further prove of my point about the quality of retro games, just look at the Seanbaby.com, the Angry Video Game Nerd, and Spoony Experiment. If retro games were so amazing, why are so many people gaining Internet fame by bashing them?

Today’s games are casual!

I saved the worst for last.

Ever since Sony created their marketing blitz for the PlayStation, video games as a hobby has slowly become more of a mainstream activity to be enjoyed with friends. The old video game audience consisting of comic book nerds, social outcasts, and young kids has expanded towards teenagers, young adults, and even seniors.

BejeweledYou would think that with a growing audience, and more developers jumping into the market would result in a bit of happiness for gamers, right? Instead, they detest this. They view video games as their “turf” and no one should be allowed to set foot on their sacred ground. When Sony wasn’t trying to advertise a console but a “hip lifestyle” to the public, gamers everywhere were scared of the future of video games.

Why? Because they believe that games are going to become too “casual.” Slowly the enthusiast games of the past have become elitists, and look down their nose at anyone who was new to video games or didn’t buy the same games as they did.

I know what you are thinking: I complained about kids thinking they were hardcore by talking about games of the past, so I must be a hypocrite. Nope, I’m not insulting casual gamers, I’m insulting posers. A casual gamer sees video games as entertainment. He buys a few games, enjoys them for a few hours a week, and doesn’t waste their time posting on the forums. He simply views games as a toy and that’s exactly what they are.

Yes, this quarter-of-a-century-old writer who has spent too many hours playing video games admits he plays with toys. Video games are simply an entertaining distraction, and a way to kill time between waking up and going to bed. The only reason why people love ‘em so much is because they provide a level of competition and challenge that G.I. Joes or He-man figures couldn’t provide. They allow us to challenge the creators of the game, beat our friends, and see who is the best in the world.

But again, casual gamers see something we love as toys. They don’t like games that take 40 hours to beat, or games with complicated control schemes. Do I have a problem with this? Of course not, why should I? However, there is a group of gamers that feel the need to belittle those who prefer casual games over “hardcore” games like “Quake” or “Starcraft.” It shouldn’t matter if someone enjoys “Halo,” “Madden,” or “Rock Band” over “your” games; it isn’t your concern. If you are going to go completely apeshit over someone else’s taste in games, you have bigger issues to deal with.

The other reason why gamers detest the casuals is because they feel the quality of the games has been degraded because of them. They either complain about the short length, the difficulty, or the simple control scheme. They say these things, yet continue to talk about the good days with “Super Mario Kart” or how they beat “Starfox” within an hour. Worst of all, they either end up buying very little games due to their stupidly high expectations, thereby contributing barely anything noteworthy to the industry, or simply pirate them. Meanwhile, those shitty casual players spend hundreds of dollars on video games and give low budget developers an audience to sell to.

Oh the horror… video games are dead.

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23 Responses to “Five Reasons There’s Never Been A Golden Age of Gaming”

  1. Zondac on May 6th, 2009 12:47 pm

    Zelda: OoT got released in the 90s, Super Mario 64 got released in the 90s, and there were MANY more awesome games in the 90s. When I think about the 90s games, i think about quality from the n64, but in 2011-2020, what games will we think of from these years? Think about it, what memorable games have you played thats NOT Weeaboo game (Anime-based). I can only think about 1 game, and guess what? It’s a Zelda game! TP. Also, Zelda: OoT took me about 2 months to complete, while it took 2 days to beat TP. Super Mario 64, well… I still haven’t won that one (I have defeated bowser, but i’m far from all the stars).

    So yeah, games were better in the 90s

    Reply

    Sinclair1k Reply:

    The golden age is from the 80s, not the 90s

    Reply

  2. no on May 6th, 2009 12:55 pm

    are you fucking serious?

    Reply

  3. BD on May 6th, 2009 1:04 pm

    Prince of Persia, the latest one.

    They took the franchise that required quick thinking and skill, but more than that, a game that incorporated functions such as “The Sands of Time” which beyond their capacity to slow or freeze time, the function served to belittle the numerous foes you had to fight, making it an endeavor into seamless choreography provided you were gifted enough, in order to shape the levels to be the true enemy for the player (evidenced by the final stage of Sands of Time, removing The Sands of Time from your posession) - they took that franchise (which admittedly was getting shit with its shit sequel, but better third iteration, but that’s a different point), and they transformed it so that it would appeal to the person that plays games for two hours a week and calls it a toy.

    Quite honestly, I think my fear is justified. I believe Mirror’s Edge, a game today ragged on by the entire press due to their inadequacy to cope with it and realize the true potential of the game through advanced response, will be the last game made that required a specific level of skill in tackling this so called “toy” - making it challenging. Sure, the story was awful, but the game bit, the gameplay was perfect if you are skilled enough to take it on, becoming better with each playthrough BUT having nothing to do with memorization of the levels (it gets more evident where you are in relation from A to B, but you still have to get there by your own devices).

    The fear is therefore, not unfounded. In the chase for money, the developers suddenly stop catering to my wants and needs, which is to successfully climb a mountain, and start catering to the wants and needs of the person who wants the toy to be entertaining for his two hours a week in which he doesn’t have to provide any input to feel gratified. That’s why Prince of Persia plays like a string of Quick Time events that you have the luxury of timing yourself.

    Reply

  4. anon on May 6th, 2009 1:15 pm

    You sir are indeed the biggest faggot in the world.

    You obviously know nothing of gaming nor you care for it so why are you even playing them?

    Seriously you bring shame on yourself and the gaming community as a whole by posting your shit comment.

    You fail at life so please do the world a favor find the time to kill yourself.

    Reply

  5. Kei-chan on May 6th, 2009 1:16 pm

    Well-written, and extremely accurate. I think you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head here :3

    Reply

  6. anon on May 6th, 2009 1:25 pm

    While I agree somewhat…

    >They don’t like games that take 40 hours to beat, or games with complicated control schemes. Do I have a problem with this? Of course not, why should I?

    You should have a problem with this; this casual audience who doesn’t want complicated games is the most highly profitable group to market to and create games for. More casual gamers = more casual games which we ‘HARDCORE ORIGINAL GAMERXXXxxxX” chaps don’t particularly enjoy. It’s an us vs them mentality because they don’t like the same shit we like but they are gonna spend more money and have more games developed for them.

    Reply

    MarkyX Reply:

    As I stated in the article, the reason for this is because the “hardcore” gamers refuse to support the industry yet whine most about the “faults”

    Simply put, the reason why developers are turning more “casual” because it sells unlike so-called hardcore games. Games since the beginning were designed to sell because they are a business, nothing more.

    Reply

  7. BJacq on May 6th, 2009 1:26 pm

    This is probably the truest article ever delivered through a journalistic medium.

    Reply

  8. anonymous on May 6th, 2009 1:50 pm

    GAMES JOURNALISM

    Reply

  9. GoNintendo » Blog Archive » Five Reasons There’s Never Been A Golden Age of Gaming- What are you waiting for? on May 6th, 2009 2:09 pm

    [...] Article here [...]

  10. Steve Sanders on May 6th, 2009 2:12 pm

    This is an amazing article and I completely agree with everything.

    The “hardcore gamers” are all faggots that need to shut the hell up.

    Reply

  11. NOUFAGGOT on May 6th, 2009 2:33 pm

    OP is a fag.

    Reply

  12. Sebor on May 6th, 2009 2:39 pm

    Not to come right out and say “U R MR GAY KTHNXBAI,” however I do disagree a good bit with a couple of your points.

    I do believe there’s reason for there to be fear that casual games are going to take over the market. Gaming is becoming more trendy, I mean just look at Nintendo’s Wii console. Personally I find it great that more people are getting into gaming, however I think it’s coming at a bit of a cost for non-casual gamers. Games like Wii-Fit and Wii-Sports are at the forefront of the system, I mean hell, Wii-Fit was the topic of discussion on that awful talk-show “The View.” Did you watch/read last year’s E3, where Nintendo showed off a whole bunch of nothing, and let their hardcore audience down. All they had to show for was a whole bunch of casual garbage. Just taking a look at my local game store’s shelves and seeing all the shovel-ware both the DS and the Wii is enough to convince me that they’re Nintendo is aggressively targeting the casual audience. How about, Reggie Fils-Aime’s cop out on bringing Fatal Frame 4 stateside.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying both the DS and the Wii are just out there for casual gamers with a bunch of garbage shovel-ware, however I am saying that a bunch of this garbage shovel-ware exists, and Nintendo’s promotion of the whole bit is evidence enough that they’re starting to lean more towards marketing to the casual gamer.

    Personally I like my games with a lot of depth and complexity. I like a game with a strong narrative/story, and I also enjoy games that are just plain old fun, like Peggle (glamorous f’ing Peggle). I’d say between those attributes and gameplay, those are the two defining factors for me what makes a game worthwhile. I always roll my eyes at the mention of “Gwaphics” because, although eye-candy is nice, it’s not quite essential for me in enjoying the experience. Recently I had a chance to sit down with an old Atari 2600 game by the name of “Adventure” and absolutely loved it. If you want to talk graphics the main character is a square, nothing else, just a square, and you slay very poorly rendered dragons that look more like ducks.

    I’m kind of on the fence on whether or not I should agree on the basis that there never existed a “Golden Age” for video games. I personally see it as a “Golden Age” (makes me think of Golden Axe), however I’m probably merely bias as a result of growing up with the games and them being a part of my childhood. I still enjoy sitting down with a lot of the older titles, and I still love everything about them, especially the music (Megaman X,and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 top of the list there). However, I agree that content-wise a lot of these games are lacking compared to today’s standards, yet so many franchises were born out the era and so many titles that I feel still hold their own against some of today’s top titles such as the various Lucas-Arts gems.

    Anyway, I see the video game industry as being a very strange entity. In one sense these companies like Capcom and such put out these titles and games that we tend to form a bond with, be it out of nostalgia, or whatever, and then tend to make these same bonds with the companies and almost tacitly agree that they’re our friends or whatever. I think this is where a lot of the sense of entitlement comes from in fanboys. The industry is an odd entity because the consumer fails to see these companies in their true light, that is these companies exist to make money. Once again, this is where the fear that the market is going to be turned into rampant casual-ism is well founded.

    Also, video games are just mere toys = / ? At best I would describe them as a unique experience somewhere between a movie and book, with a level of interactivity that is unfounded in either medium. Yep, that makes me feel like I haven’t wasted hundreds of hours of my life.

    Peace,

    The Sebor

    Reply

  13. JM Walker on May 6th, 2009 2:49 pm

    I agree whole heartedly with your statements. I’ve met with the “posers” you mentioned in your article, they would rave about how they’d buy SMB, Pokemon red, and other old games over their more modern revivals simply because of phony nostalgia. Kids born in 1992 pining over Mario 3 and Sonic 2? That’s bullshit. “Hardcore gamers” go above and beyond in their idiocy.

    Miyamoto is right, companies shouldn’t waste their time or energy trying to cater to their portion of the market.

    Reply

  14. The sound of logic on May 6th, 2009 3:10 pm

    Muramasa, a “real” game for the Wii, just lost it’s publisher for a western localized version because “real” games like Mad World(66k copies sold) and GTA:Chinatown(less than 90k copies sold) just cemented the fact that games that don’t have words such as “party” and “minigame collection” in the title and are actually targetted for people who love “real” video games DO NOT SELL.
    A fucking GRAND THEFT AUTO GAME doesn’t sell anymore. GRAND THEFT AUTO.

    Wii fit has soon sold more copies than Sony has sold PS3’s. Ubisoft’s casual non-game series for the DS such as “Imagine Babiez” etc are among their most profitable IP’s ever.

    Nintendo are swimming in money and are completely dominating the market, all thanks to a strong focus on “games” that are not targetted toward people who actually play “real” games.

    What does that tell you about the future? Why would any video game company spend money on making non-casual games for the Wii or the DS? It’s financial suicide. And soon enough, no company will want to make “real” video games period because there’s way more money in non-games, party-games and mini game collections.

    We used to think that these “casual” players would soon enough demand more out of their games and start playing “real” games but with the recent flops of games like Mad World and GTA:Chinatown Wars, we know that it isn’t true. They’re gonna keep playing their Wii Fit’s. Wii Sport’s and Wii Music.

    Reply

    Unit Reply:

    Muramasa Demon Blade is coming to the U.S.

    “Ignition Entertainment is immensely proud for the opportunity to bring Muramasa: The Demon Blade to the legions of North American gamers yearning for top-quality, original action games on Wii,” said Ignition Entertainment’s
    Shane Bettenhausen in the official announcement.”

    source: http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2009/04/muramasa-the-de/

    Reply

  15. The N3 Newswire for May 6 | MonsterVine.com on May 6th, 2009 4:07 pm

    [...] coming to a phone near you –Coming to E3 from capcom –Why there hasn’t been a true gaming golden age yet (SB’s pick!) –EA vs. the [...]

  16. Pepe on May 7th, 2009 12:28 am

    Yeah, pretty good : D

    I do agree a lot with you, eventhough I do despise a little todays games. Especially since I’ve never been able to stand FPS’s : P .

    But the main reason why I don’t like new games too much it’s because I would like to see the Developers use all that new potential in new gameplays… instead of pretty graphics.

    But yeah, I love Guitar Hero and I love what the Wii is making with the market.

    Just a last word: I must say that OoT has one of the best cameras in a 3D game ever. The only game that beats it, is Wind Waker. I didn’t like the camera of TP and… sadly, I didn’t like TP that much either (but I adore WW).

    Reply

  17. Guy on May 7th, 2009 6:52 am

    Wow!

    I can’t express how surprised I am to actually find an interesting and well written article via N4G. This was a great read, and I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Except for one point maybe: After almost 30 years of gaming, I do think that games had a golden age, only I think it was 2006-2008. Check almost every genre and you will see that the best games came out in the last two or three years. (In 2018 I might change my mind, because I believe gaming is constantly evolving and we’re getting better and better games each year).

    Reply

  18. IronROB on May 7th, 2009 10:43 am

    To be honest,IMO I believe there is no such thing as “one true golden age of gaming” or any other kind of ” one golden age” for that matter.

    I believe that for most grown-up or adult gamers the “golden age” for them is the game(s) they started playing in the 80’s or the 90’s.
    Its like that in many “golden ages”(movies,books,music and more), so in the far future, like maybe 2034, many of us will maybe consider this current era of gaming a “golden age”.

    Reply

  19. kurokotetsu on May 7th, 2009 12:39 pm

    The first thing i love is the people bashing the article in a foolish manner, that seem to be unable to respond correctly to this piece.

    I don’t know if there has been a “Golden Age of Gaming” but I have some complaints. There were a los games in the 8-16-bit era that although they required memorization, but even after taht they are pretty hard to beat. The Lost Levels is an example. And if we complain about the length of todays game it is because they could be longer, while the “good ol’ games” a lot of tiems couldn’t as they had more limitations.

    Also I’m one of the OoT over Tp, but it is because OoT is far more innovative. Part of what makes that Zelda great (my favorite game indeed) is that it was a huge step, it was totally different to what we had seen before, while as you said TP is an improvemente. Originality is a factor that affects games a lot. That is why I also prefer Viewtiful Joe over the sequel, because it was more innovative and original. Yet I by far don’t dispise the refinement of the formula (Mario Galaxy, TP, etc.) as some gamers do, position I don’t understand.

    Also I completlye agree that the cry of outrage about “casual” gaming is mostly just hot air. It really bores me to death.

    Reply

  20. me on May 8th, 2009 9:15 pm

    Has nothing to do with being hardcore. This is the most ‘opinionated’ article I’ve ever tried to read. It makes no legitmate points. Only pretensious remarks about titles that were haphazardly chosen with total abandon of other titles that DO meet all the qualities of what would be considered a golden age of gaming. There are also games of this era that represent these qualities. I can agree with the general statement about a ‘golden age’ and highly agree the wrong point are made but there are no right ones here either. You seriously cannot take a few game names and throw them out there like these are ‘poster names’ for gaming in an entire era.

    Also did you grow up with a NES? You played Zelda 800 times because its all you had. You didnt have money to go buy new games. You played what you had over and over and loved it. Maybe now with your Halo-machine and PSN Network or even I dunno… Internet where emulation is free and rampant you can come up with some logical argument about now v/s then in terms of quality, but you are hardly justfying then v/s now. Things were basic because they were freaking basic. Now you just cant compare things to games with multiplayer capability and wireless networking etc… wish people would actually just consider that for once with these dumb internet arguments that have zero point.

    Reply

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