I’m an old school gamer. As a yung’un my parents owned one of the PONG systems that Sears was putting out in the late seventies. As I got older, I grew up watching the video game era grow up with me. I was there for the Atari 2600, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, NES, SNES, Segas Master System and Genesis, and so on. I was there for the controversy surrounding the Dragon’s Lair arcade game. I got to cough and hack as a young boy in the smoky, dark environs of arcades when each cabinet came equipped with an ash tray. And I got to witness the video game crash of 1983 (thanks, E.T.).
Throughout the years, I’ve pretty much stayed up to date with the latest and greatest as far as consoles and games are concerned. I’m a little choosier these days, but I still find myself picking up the big name titles like Fallout and Red Dead Redemption. Despite that, I’ve started to notice something about myself. And maybe it’s a sign that my age is starting to catch up to me when it comes to video games: The games seem to keep getting bigger, longer, and grander in scope, and I’m starting to get intimidated by them.
I mean, games used to be so simple and straightforward – navigate a maze, climb some ladders. The games were either points-based and the only objective was to see how far you could go on one quarter, or the world the game was set in could be explored and completed in just a handful of hours.
But these days, games can take weeks – sometimes months – to finish. And, if you’re a completist like me? Look forward to spending the next season or two aiming for 100%. And on top of that, the amount of spare time most of us have in our adult years to play these games grows much smaller when we aren’t living in our parents’ basements. And at the same time that these games continue to become bigger and bigger juggernauts for the calloused-thumb crowd the number of releases per year also continues to grow, often making it a struggle to get through the stack on the coffee table.
It’s all of these things that have made me realize that I’ve started to shrink away from the mega-hits and have started gravitating back towards smaller fare. I’m finding myself downloading classics and smaller games off of the PSN store instead of running down the street to pick up the latest disc. Pac-Man DX, Scott Pilgrim, Zombie Apocalypse - these games take me back to a simpler time, allowing me to play them in shorter stretches and feeling a greater sense of accomplishment when I can actually complete them. And at the same time, I also find myself going back and revisiting the classics I enjoyed during my youth a lot more.
I guess this means I’m starting to become the gamer equivalent of that geriatric down the street who sits on his porch and yells at the rapscallions to get off his lawn. I mean, to be fair – back in my day playing video games was a privilege and we had to use little metal disks called quarters to make them work.
That’s not to say that I don’t still purchase the bigger games from time to time. I actually do own Fallout: New Vegas, for example. I picked it up on release day, even. Unfortunately, I still have yet to even pop it in the PS3 to play it.
I want to finish Fallout 3 first. And Castlevania. And Borderlands. And Resident Evil 5. And Grand Theft Auto IV. And…