Out with the New, In with the Old

posted by on 15th November 2014, at 10:00am

As a gaming writer, it is my job to educate and inform readers about the latest goings on in gaming. But even more importantly, I believe I have a duty to instill in readers a greater appreciation for gaming as a whole, including the origins and history of gaming. Without the first step, no future steps are possible. To that end, I hope my readers will take to heart what I have to say and come away the better for it.

It’s nice that gaming has come a long way since its inception in the 1980s. I mean, who doesn’t like better graphics, improved game play, more game selection, and multiplayer? Progress in good is a good thing no doubt in any circumstance. Or is it…?

Even progress has its drawbacks sometimes. We take for granted and become accustomed to the idea that things will get continuously better and never worse; however, it is foolhardy to think that there won’t be failures and flops along the way. In addition, with every step made toward progress, arguably another step is made towards regress. While this may sound cliché and some gamers are likely ask “Who cares as long as I’m entertained and happy?” I will nevertheless try and convince you why you should care.

I’m likely already unlike most my readers by being one of a minority who likes older games and wishes I could play them more often if it wasn’t for the time I spend on newer games. As I said initially, games are so great now, you would be crazy to “waste your time” on anything released before the year 2000. Add to that the fact that all your friends are playing new games as well, meaning that even if had the time and desire to play an older game, it will likely be a solo endeavor as most of your friends won’t have the interest or ability to join you (though there are certainly exceptions to this).

In order to get a better perspective on the topic, the first thing readers should consider is how game design works: a team of developers spends months, sometimes years, working on a game for your enjoyment only to have you enjoy it for a relatively short period of time until you quickly move onto the next thing. The gaming industry is all about constant progress, improvement, and feeding gamers’ hunger for instant gratification. It’s quite a sad reality and it should be. For all the effort that goes into game design, much of it becomes wasted.

Secondly, it seems that popular and well-made games never lose their appeal or enjoyment factor, regardless of how old or outdated they are. In truth, the only stumbling block to enjoying old games is archaic graphics and controls. (This is something I’ve learned with first-hand experience trying to go back and play games I once loved, but found difficult to enjoy later given the chunkiness and limitedness of game development at the time.) But other than that, the best old games still have shelf life and relevancy even if most gamers have chosen to stick with modern times.

At this point, I think you can see what I’m getting at. There is always value to old games regardless of how much time has passed. This value should be recognized and experienced by each and every gamer at least once in a while. Revisiting the old generates greater appreciation for the new. As the old adage goes, “You don’t value what you’ve got until it’s gone.” Playing an older game, you will lose those good graphics you are used to, the hotkeys, the frames per second, all of it. At first, you will be unimpressed, annoyed, and bored. But, if you stick with it and give it a chance, you’ll soon get used to the awful graphics and crude control configuration. You’ll start to laugh at the corny plots and either the extreme ease or difficulty of finishing objectives. It’ll start to feel like you are gaming because you actually are…just in a way you aren’t used to.

Playing old games is a pain in the butt and it takes a certain type of mentality and attitude to have fun with it. You have to go in with zero expectations or at least with ones that don’t expect anything groundbreaking or life changing. Finding old games to play isn’t the hardest part. It’s finding a way to run an old game that causes the most frustration. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried and how many hours I spent trying to run a game made for Windows 95/98 on Windows 7. It’s no easy task. Sometimes, it just won’t work and you either need to find an older computer, run a virtual PC program, or find an emulator that will do what you want. But with the effort I put in came much reward from the satisfaction of not only getting the game to run, but also from playing it.

Still, the time and effort put into getting old games to run is not an efficient or ideal situation. Overall, my greatest hope for old games is that they find new life from current game developers. Gaming companies should take an interest in older games and bring them back, either in their original form or updated with minor improvements. While it would take time and resources to recode and modernize old games, the pay off comes in gamers having access to games which never would have seen the light of day even though they deserved another chance in the spotlight. Will this ever happen? Probably not. But so long as there is a copy of an old game laying around and someone with the desire to bring that game back to life, there is always an opportunity to make it happen. And that’s a good thing.

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