Am I “Old Skool” Or Just Old? (Revisited)

It’s been eight years, 2 months and 18 days since I first wrote the words below, and it’s either a sad commentary on gaming, or perhaps on me, that as I approach 34 years of age (in October) I still lament the state of modern video games as I did when I was a tender 25-year-old..

Of course, what makes things worse is that I regularly see our children playing video games only to turn them off when things get challenging and the shiny isn’t enough to compensate for the lack of truly great and addictive game-play.

It’s not the fault of or a commentary on the children, just like you wouldn’t blame kids for not understanding why they have to rewind a VHS tape (they’ve never seen one), but I can’t help but wonder if they’d be more appreciative and critical of today’s games if they had started out like this old fart did. Sadly, we’ll never get to find out, unless one of us deliberately excludes our kids from experiencing modern technology and forces them to only use a C64 as some sort of weird social experiment.

Anyway, back to my 8-year-old rant about the state of video games

It’s a sad fact but at 25 years of age I am starting to feel very old when it comes to the computer games that appeal to me.

I started out with computers at the tender ages of 5 and have owned everything from a ZX Spectrum, VIC20, C64 all the way up to the wall of PC’s here in my house. My primary interest in computers has always been coding, but I’ve always been a gamer as well.

There must be community of people who, like me, have been using computers for 20 or more years, and could be considered the old timers of gamers. Now, what I was to know is –  is the old timer “old skool” or just old?

I find that when I’m playing games today, they look great, sound great and generally play OK to crap (with some very notable exceptions!). But I miss the times when games were great. Not good, but great! When all you had was 16 colours, and 2 or 3 tracks to mix 8 bit audio with. You had 64k of memory.. Hardly enough to store 64 desktop shortcuts on todays PC’s.

They looked bad (for the most part), they sounded bad but they had something that most of todays games don’t. Playability! The were simply great fun to play, and you wanted to keep coming back and playing them even though they took up to 30 minutes to load in off of tapes that sometimes didn’t work.

In general todays games don’t have that, and in general most people don’t want to wait for the game to load, if 30 seconds went by without it loading they’d think it had crashed, much less 30 minutes.

What people seem to want is the quick fix of instant action. I like that too, but I prefer to make an investment of my time, and that’s what playing computer games is.. An investment. You spend money and buy a product and then invest your time in it. Well I like a good return on my investments and back in the “old days” that investment required waiting 30 minutes for it to load, so you wouldn’t just boot up for a quick game… You’d boot up and go make a cup of coffee while it loads because you know you’re going to playing this all evening.

Maybe I’m just getting old, and games don’t hold the same appeal for me (and I just don’t realize it) but I want that again today… The investment. The money I spend on the product should not just get me pretty graphics and sound, but something that I’ll spend hours of my time on.. will lock the door and pretend I’m not home, just so I can try “that bit” again… sleepless night… cold sweats.. the addiction of an enthralling game with great gameplay..

Now don’t get me wrong, I still love playing games, and I play everything from MMORPG’s, to FPS, to C&C style games, and there are great examples of truly awesome games with everything I want in all categories… It’s just that considering the money we spend in games, I don’t want to have to find the exceptions in order to play a great game.. They should all be good…

Take a lesson from the time when we had no choice but to have crap graphics and sound. When code had to be had optimized to maximize the amount that could be gotten into 64k… Just forget about the 30 minute loading times, okay!

So which am I? Old or “old skool”?