Old School Gaming: Where 1337 and Geriatric Collide

If you're the type of person to play a lot of videos games, or at least have a love of games, then you most likely at some point have had a run-in with an "old school" gamer, and there's the unfortunate chance that the encounter was in no way a pleasant one.  They are the double-edged sword of the video game community.

Typically, an old school gamer is anyone who strongly prefers playing games from previous generations of the ever-expanding form of media.  From early arcade cabinets to the clunky, polygon-littered gems of the N64, they obess about and revere the classics.  This is a good thing, despite any stigma.  It's important to have an appreciation for the earlier works in any form of art or entertainment.

Much like a film critic who enjoys the films from the early Twentieth Century, or a musician who draws inspiration from baroque period compositions, a gamer who loves older games and can learn the defining traits of excellent game design from them is someone to respect.  Old school gamers are the best equipped to observe comparisons and contrasts between games from then and now.  They can objectively monitor the trends that appear in games, and accurately give praise or criticism when appropriate.  If you have a clear and basic understanding of game design, being a gamer who continues enjoy the older games while still playing the new ones will make an invaluable member of the community.

As vital as old school gamers are, they do also come bundled with one the most harmful aspects of gaming: the gamers who hate anything new.  These are the players who played the oldest games, particularly the games on the Nintendo Entertainment System.  These people "grew up" on the classics of the '70s, '80s, and '90s, and consider all games that have come after them to be shallow, unimaginative, and "too easy."  They have become self-absorbed over their childhoods, and seem to believe any form of entertainment from their youths to be as sacred as the bible.

These 8-bit elitists suffer from the inability to understand that a person's childhood innocence plays a dominant and crucial part in the develop of the affection one has for something.  I'll use myself as an example.  I was born during the end of NES's life-cycle, but I never really gamed much until the end of the N64's life-cycle, around the year 2000.  And then after a year of fascination with games, Nintendo released it's newest system, the Game Cube.  I loved and still love that system.  I played on it through most of my developing years, from being a preteen to becoming a college hopeful.  My memories attached to that console are numerous and vivid.

My favorite game of all time, Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was released on the Game Cube.  I still play that game every year as a tradition.  It will always be my favorite game.  To me, it is gaming perfection.

Now, does this mean I believe all other games to be released after it are terrible?  No.  In fact, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, a game that was released more then three years after Wind Waker is a close second on my list of favorite games.  I, unlike many gamers, understand how nostalgia is a deciding factor in how much something can be loved, and I accept that.  I know the fun I had with this game as a kid is a major reason I love it so much, and I am happy about it.  There is nothing wrong with favoring something soley because it reminds you of a happy time in your life.

It is wrong, however, to insist on bemoaning anything that came after just to keep yourself in a delusion.  I do not believe any game I have played is better than Wind Waker, but if a game comes around, and it is clearly better, I will admit it.  But Wind Waker will still be my favorite game.  If something needs to be the best to be loved, then ninety-nine percent of all sports teams should be disbanded.

If you are a long-time lover of a games, or a long-time lover of anything you enjoy, good for you.  Just know that everything changes and everything grows.  If you only try to keep things as you remember them just for the sake of treating your older favorites as scripture, all you're doing is alienating the other fans and harming the hobby.  Don't ruin it for everybody else.


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