There are a few flirtations and love affairs we indulge in, as gamers. Not all of them are lovely. Often times we find ourselves stuck in unhealthy relationships with these mistresses. Callouses, eye strain, RSI, and the one that I think hurts me the most: the painful sting of obsolescence.
With technology advancing at a speed usually reserved for falling coconuts, our beloved games are superseded and replaced with bigger and better successors at a phenomenal rate. There is a new or updated platform on which to play games almost yearly, and the games being churned out for them are constant. I remember a time where one console would last you years, and games usually only came out just before Christmas. Of course this is great in some ways, it means we’re adding more and more wonderful components to our gaming platforms, and as such our games are capable of much more amazing and impressive feats. But there’s a looming downside behind all this progress. We’re losing our old favourites. People are trading-in their old consoles and games in order to pay for the new ones, leaving only the very keenest of keen that stockpile every console, controller, power adapter, cable, game, and accessory for every gaming platform they’ve ever owned. Are we going to lose our gaming history? Will it soon be impossible or at the very least extremely hard and expensive to take a walk down memory lane?
Thankfully, someone is trying to make sure this doesn’t happen. The National Media Museum and Nottingham Trent University in Great Britain have joined forces by setting up the National Video Game Archive, to ensure we remember where we came from. Their mission statement is to “preserve, analyse and display the products of the global video game industry by placing games in their historical, social, political and cultural contexts”. The National Video Game Archive (NVGA) is allowing visitors to not just play classic games in their original arcade or console formats, but to also understand what external factors motivated the designers and dictated certain decisions in the development of the game itself. Thank goodness someone is looking after the games that get thrown away after something bigger and better comes along. For those of us outside of the UK who can’t visit the NVGA in person, don’t lose hope. The major game development houses are doing their best to pump us full of nostalgia. Currently in the works are revamps of Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, Donkey Kong Country, Metroid, Zelda, and Goldeneye, amongst others. It seems there’s more than one person lamenting the loss of our old favourites, and doing their best to bring them back into our lounge rooms.
Obsolescence is sometimes inevitable, but most of the time you can fight it by holding onto the games you adore. If you’re sick of the sting of obsolescence, put the time and money into making sure you can be backwards compatible. Make sure you find the cables you need to input into your shiny new television. While trading in seems like a great way to save money and be a frugal gamer, don’t get caught up in constant upgrading. Make sure you show respect to the games that shaped you as a gamer and brought you to where you are today. I will always tip my hat to the games that firmly put me in Gamerville. If someone told me to choose between eating again and my Nintendo64, I would have to seriously think about it…