My desperate search

Remember the days of yore? When you were still watching cartoons on a TV without a remote. Summers meant no school, poison ivy, scraped knees, and Super Soakers. The simpler times when Yars’ Revenge still blew your mind.

Yars' Revenge

But some time, after hundreds (who am I kidding?) thousands of hours of gaming, if you are like me, you probably have become jaded. Like TV, film, and art, most games just suck and the more you play, the more you cultivate your taste, the more the sucktitude stands out.

Of course, it’s easy to craft a narrative where the old games are always the best games: The Grim Fandago, The Secret of Mana, Masters of Orion 2, the Baldur’s Gate series, Action Quake 2, Shining Force II, the list could go on. But we all know for every great game then, there were five games like Atari’s E.T.:

Atari manufactured five million E.T. cartridges, and according to Atari’s CEO, “nearly all of them came back.” It got to a point where the world’s children refused to take them for free. To put that into perspective, I’ve seen kids buy dead spiders from each other for a nickle. Calling this game a piece of trash is actually scientifically accurate because Atari eventually took their massive collection of useless E.T. cartridges and buried it in a New Mexico landfill. So if you ever lose your mind and want a copy of E.T., or maybe five million, grab a shovel and drive out to the desert. They’re free.

The games industry, of course, is no worse or better off now than it was. The money grubbing media machines is still shoving crap games in our faces and the larger developers aren’t allowing early reviews since it might hurt sales. The indie game scene is also a bit bloated, much of it derivative and boring, and the noise of the internet is making it difficult to find real gems (don’t get me started on the SEO, snake-oil salesmanship) to squeeze into what little time we now have in our adult lives.

I want my games to feel magical. I want to feel like I did the first time I finished Salinger’s Franny and Zooey in my early twenties: delighted, dismayed, confused, and given pause.

That is to say:

“Games aren’t giving me what I feel like I need.”

Done? Good (watching the above video is a moral imperative).

Now do me a favor and send me recommendations of those great games you’ve been playing, while I go out and scour the internet. Let’s not waste our time anymore, let’s fill our days, games or otherwise, with greatness.

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  1. […] The was originally posted over at The Idler. […]

  2. […] need to give credit to Andrew Simone, whose list of “Essential indie games” and link to Brandon Boyer’s GDC microtalk have had a huge impact on my thinking about what video games are and should be doing, and Kate […]

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