“You say, ‘my children weren’t the same, my children’s children they’re the ones to blame. In my day we were better behaved’. But it’s not your day no more” – Amy MacDonald, “Youth of Today”
Over at Next Level Gaming, JRock has published an article about his personal gaming experience and how “[his] Era of gaming was fantastic for iconic titles that still live on to this day and if you had a tournament between old school gamers and this new breed of gamers us ‘old fucks’ would take these ‘young gamers’ to school… These young gamers will never know the struggle of having to grind out your first job at the age of 12 just to buy a video game or having your console ripped out of the wall for acting up by your parents or actually having your friends over for some good old couch gaming.”
There is nothing more frustrating to me than to hear how “good” it was in the “old days” and how “easy” we have it now, especially in the context of gaming. Therefore, as a rebuttal to JRock’s article, I’d like to recount my own gaming experience and this time, not claim that one generation of gamers is better than another. My first reason for doing this is that I’ve read articles like JRock’s ever since I started writing for the gaming industry. They are nothing new and seem to take the focus of the gaming audience despite the large number of gamers who are under thirty. In all my years, I have not heard our story being told, and I think it’s time. My second reason is that I want to put forth that all gamers are equal in play. What matters in a game is how much you’ve practiced, not whether or not you know what a NES looks like.
My gaming began with Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask, Cruisin’ the World, and Super Mario 64 . The N64 was the only system my parents allowed us kids, and I didn’t play the games very often. I was often told I was too young and gaming was for my brother, not me. I could watch, though, and I enjoyed that as much as I could. When I was able to play, it wasn’t very seriously. I couldn’t get past certain levels because my siblings told me they were too difficult for me. I left gaming behind me for a long time after that – it was for boys, it was for people older than me, it was for people who didn’t want a career. My parents were full of the stereotypes I know are wrong today. In that interim period, my family would often come together to play the Myst series. I watched with deep fascination, but was never allowed to play.
It wasn’t until I started living on my own that I picked up my love for games again. My first order of business was to finally finish Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask . I spent about $20 on a used N64, about the same on Ocarina of Time , and stole Majora’s Mask from my brother. Once I finished those, I remembered Conker’s Bad Fur Day , a game I didn’t understand as a child, but definitely wanted to play as an adult. Myst , unfortunately, never came back to me in the form of a game and I ended up reading the book series instead.
At this point, I had friends that played on the PS3 and PC who introduced me to lovely horror games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent and BioShock. Twilight Princess came next, along with Okami, which were easy enough on the Gamecube. BioShock was more difficult, however, as I had never played a shooter game before, never mind from a first person perspective. It was scary at first, but I played that demo over and over until I got it!
So no, I never knew the NES, the Sega Genesis, or PS2. I never had to deal with non-existent save points. No, I didn’t have every game or console ever released. I certainly never played with anyone, much less my siblings. And until I was introduced to the PS3, shooter games were Violent Video Games For Boys™, never to be touched by the delicate likes of me.
None of that means I love gaming any less; it doesn’t mean that I am not a hardcore gamer, or that I can’t kick ass at DOOM or Overwatch as much as the next person. I take pride in my love for gaming because I love art, and art transcends time. Take heart, youth of today, and tell your story too.