Friday, March 1, 2013

The Philosophy of Gaming Nostalgia

I'm almost 25 and I still follow video games, at least the culture pertaining to them. I've always found the culture fascinating artistically, especially because it is the only industry that can boast the feat of creating art that is fully interactive. I'm not an artist (sadly), but a writer and novice historian. I think video games are today's contemporary means of story telling. They aren't good stories most of the time, but they seem to resemble pulp fiction, or even the serialized novels of the late 19th century.

Video games have braved the test of time due to mechanics. I still remember buying an NES with thirteen games at a garage sale and my life never being the same. I also remember getting a SNES for my birthday and my mom made me return it because I wouldn't share it with my brother and I was charging the neighborhood kids to play it. My life also would never again be the same.

Physically the systems of yesteryear have evolved very rationally, but at the time I think we were still completely blown away by them in the moment. The NES I got was a relic of the late 80s. It's controller was completely square, and I blame it's callous inducing shape on my first and only wart of my childhood. The SNES brought the powerful application of ergonomics to it's platform, thus introducing the form fitting feel of the modern game controller. It's flatness still reflected the 2D medium that dominated the artistic expressions of the market. When the N64 arrived, it was clear that 3D was king, and the controller represented it.

The controller is a window into the world of gaming. It determines how one interacts with the (in)tangible reality generated in real time. I think PC gaming approached this formula backwards, creating an interactive world through the implementation of physics. The controller wasn't the means of interaction. The mouse and keyboard were input mechanisms. It wasn't until the marriage of PC gaming and console game controllers that the PC truly shined.

When I said before that video games were chiefly expressions of modern storytelling I should have stated that I think the PC market was the only platform to get it right. Given the universality of the PC, game developers are still cohorts in this brave new world of artistic expression. Half Life is and always will be the greatest gaming franchise fabricated. Halo? what is that? Halo can kiss my ass! No, there are certain alluring prospects for a gaming franchise when it's fans utter in the hushed underground the meager glimpses of what they may or may not see. Half Life 3 in no longer a game. It's a legend, relegated to the sacred masonic temple of Valve, only to be birthed when the stars align.

I think in the next couple of weeks I'm going to start really pushing on the novel, I'll give you all the updates as they come. It should be done by May, though I still plan to release it next year. There are other goodies to come in this. I'll keep you in the dark until then.


SW 

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