Scientists do plenty of research into the human brain, but much of what goes on inside our heads remains a mystery.
For example, something that’s so far eluded discovery is the ‘contemporary culture’ off-switch. This is suspected to be a multi-part process that can be triggered at any time, but usually at some point in your 30s. As the process does its work and portions of your grey matter go dark, you gradually become intolerant of anything new, banging on about how everything was better in the old days.
We’re used to this line of thinking regarding cinema, television and pop music, mediums that have been cemented in the public consciousness for many decades. More recently, though, the grumblers are increasingly out in force regarding games. “Back in my day,” they claim in a steely tone, “games were great, but of course now they’re all a load of rubbish”. Evidence thus provided, the case for the prosecution rests, armed with an annoyingly smug grin.
The assertion everything was rosy in some halcyon era of gaming is utter crap. Games weren’t better in the old days, and I know this for a fact because I was there. For the most part, that early era of home gaming was certainly very exciting as home computers took root, but that’s because almost every idea appeared to be new. Even recycling had a kind of freshness, largely because of the relatively low number of games.
But for every Ultima, Elite or Tetris, a Bionic Granny, Ninja Master or Rise of the Robots lurked. Great games existed, too, but they were relentlessly surrounded by a sea of dross, eager to sap at your enthusiasm until you became a jaded, twisted gamer, eventually viewing everything through a lens of suspicion and cynicism.
Gamers, you've never had it so good
There are issues with modern gaming, such as freemium, an over-reliance on IP recycling, and a tendency for certain genres to be grey, brown, and grey with a hint of extra brown. But on PCs, you get everything from remarkably inventive indie fare through to exciting, immersive multiplayer worlds; on consoles, you enjoy a range from vibrant arcade titles that fling an insane number of things around the screen with barely any effort, through to sandbox worlds that rival the interactive movies that once only existed in the realm of science-fiction; and on mobile, there’s everything from single-thumb one-minute time-wasters to surprisingly deep classics like horror adventure The Walking Dead.
The diversity of platforms and sheer variety of available titles means gaming is now a more inclusive and exciting pastime. And with a generation of parents having grown up with games, they’re becoming increasingly normalised rather than niche. There’s no need to fall into that familiar trap of branding the new as rubbish in a knee-jerk fashion, clinging desperately to rose-tinted memories. Modern games are great, there’s something for everyone, and gamers have never had it so good. And if a grumpy old bugger disagrees, lock them in a cupboard with some emulators, and get on with playing something amazing, because life’s too short to spend your entire life looking back.