I was thinking about this a little bit today. Do our tastes in the games that we play change as we get older? Almost certainly, but as always the level of the change depends on the person as I don’t think you can ever really boil it down to a stereotypical statistic.
Will a person as they get older stop liking FPS games? or perhaps they’ll still love the genre but move onto different franchises that cater for their changing interests, maybe they want something a bit grittier than the frankly absurd over the top bomb bast of the Call of Duty series? Perhaps a person who loves JRPG’s like the final fantasy series end up losing touch with the franchise and start to play more western-style RPG’s like the elder scrolls series? Although ill admit that’s a bit of an unfair comparison as Final fantasy has been stinking it up as of late, so instead of final fantasy we’ll put something like Lost Odyssey there as that IS a great game.
I think if developers and publishers ever crack that “equation” of how to predict and accurately track people’s trending tastes then that would be akin to the gaming holy grail… Well in so much as making money rather than making the “Perfect Game” but you know what I mean.
So for a bit of fun I thought I’d roughly map out from my younger years up until the present day of how my tastes have changed and how they reflected me as a person. As I believe games can say a lot about you as a person but in a meaningful way rather than the skin deep oh they like shooters they must be gibbering foaming at the mouth crazies etc, that the mass media like to portray the majority of gamers.
- My RPG (Early) Years
So this covers my Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64 days as they were the consoles i owned and played the ever-loving shit out of, although I did have the Playstation 1 at a later date, they never captured my imagination as much as Nintendo did at that period in time. Perhaps it was during that period of time where Nintendo got the reputation for being a primarily kiddy oriented platform, which I believe it still has to this day as a result of the wii and the over abundance of casual gaming… Shit where was I?
Oh yes, well the games I played the most in my younger more impressionable years were RPG’s and 2D beat em ups and the odd platformer as the technology at the time was too limited to be able to do too much with. If you wanted to make a game on the SNES or any console of that generation it would normally be a platformer or action platformer or any sort of spin on the platforming genre. The RPG though was what had me hooked, a world to get lost in and to forget about shitty school for a while, it was something that always helped fire my imagination. As I was a big kid at school I did get bullied from time to time so having something to go back to and forget about it at the end of the day at home was invaluable to me. The game that always sticks in my memory for this was “The Illusion Of Time” and I still remember clearly going in to the game store with my dad and he helped me pick it out and buy it, which was awesome as it showed he accepted it and encouraged me too :).
Of course when the N64 came out I was all over that, Super Mario 64, Goldeneye, Diddy Kong Racing and much more. It was an absolutely joy to be a gamer during that period because the games were so much fun, they never took themselves seriously and concentrated on giving you a massive amount of enjoyment, that was my mindset during that period, it’s a little different now of course.
I’ve mentioned this before but I think its worth mentioning again that one of my clearest memories of the N64 era was when we had the whole family around for…. Something I cant remember what it was, I had brought the machine down and we all ended up having a go on it, and that was especially fun for me as it meant I could share my hobby more with my family, which to a little kid like me was amazing.
*Honourable mention to the street fighter games as that was the go-to game for multiplayer gaming during the early years for me. Of course you could mention super bomberman and killer instinct etc but i was always a street fighter kid when growing up.
- The Teenage High School Years
This was when the technology started to grow in leaps and bounds, much like ourselves during that period because I bring you forward to the school years, those years we all hated but now we’re older wish we could re live again. This was also the period of the Playstation 2, Dreamcast and the very first Xbox. The technology of course grew so much that we could start to enjoy different types of games, and perhaps new takes on the tried and tested also. Again i was still an RPG man but it branched out a little to the MMO by way of Phantasy Star Online 1 and 2 for the dreamcast which was awesome, although at the time here in england broadband wasnt freely available so we had to log on using dial-up and that was at a cost of 1p per minute i believe so multiple sessions of an hour over the week, it could definitely start to mount up so you had to be careful.
Shooters like call of duty were still very much in their infancy so I never played them that much, plus I had a dreamcast, and the controller pad for that was absolutely god awful for shooters, just try playing quake 3 with one analogue stick, its like playing it one bloody handed. The Xbox fixed this by having two sticks on its controller and it was all the better for it, although people complained about its massive size, and fair enough it was pretty big, I never had a problem with it. The controller design was ingenious as it was perfect for Halo of course (Who’d have thought, it was like the controller was specifically designed for that very game!….) which I believe was the starter for the shooter craze we see now in the likes of call of duty, as everyone in the FPS scene was trying to be like Halo or at least emulate its success, much like everyone does with WoW in the MMORPG scene.
Of course we are still feeling that shooting craze with the seemingly unending yearly editions of CoD, which surely must end in tears like the guitar hero franchise did because your saturating the market so damn much to squeeze every ounce of money out of the franchise, your bound to start seeing diminishing returns surely because people will gradually get sick of it. My personal preference is to see succesful franchises treated with care like rockstar do with the GTA series. But again maybe you can’t have shooters sitting still for years at a time because they can stagnate and hey, how many new ways can someone think of shooting someone in the face before it goes stale?
Sorry I kind of went off on one there…..
So to try to surmise that all up and to stop me rambling on any further, on further inspection of what ive written so far i think i can safely say that the popular genres of the time over the years have reflected our society (Specifically western). Call of Duty for the present that represents the instant gratification and fast, constant stimulus of social media etc. Perhaps back in the day of the SNES was a call back to naivety of the gaming industry and also the view society had of games in general, something to be held in amusement, that only man-children and geeks played which was to be ridiculed.
Thankfully that doesn’t happen nearly as much as it used to, as gaming has gained wide-spread acceptance and (in my opinion) far superior to the film industry. But it is interesting to think back and make those sorts of connections with what sort of computer games were popular at the time, what machines were popular at the time, how “mainstream” culture perceived it etc.
Thanks for reading
Hope you found it somewhat interesting 🙂