I remember trading in games at the local shop when I was younger, usually about 4-5 of my own for one of theirs, this was almost a right of passage throughout my teenage years. My pocket money wouldn’t stretch too far so I used to spend at least an hour carefully choosing the one new game I would be bringing back home with me whilst my over-played trade-ins sat on the counter like worn socks looking at me. Generally I would be disappointed with my selection (the internet was still taking baby steps towards the powerhouse it is today so any web surfing research was out of the window) but there are a few games, throughout the years that have stayed with me.
Final Fantasy 7, Zelda Ocarina of Time and Broken Sword 1 & 2 are a few of the games I truly worshipped, and still do to this day. Although the gameplay has aged and the graphics would now be deemed old fashioned. The turn-based combat system in Final Fantasy 7 was a bold move to make, and it worked wonderfully at the time. The point-and-click adventures during my time with George Stobbart in Broken Sword conceived timeless charm and the all new Z-targeting quests I would embark on as Link in Zelda Ocarina of Time were pure adventure. I don’t know how or why I was drawn into the world of video games, but I am glad I have been, especially in what I would consider the golden age of true innovation throughout the 1990s.
The subject I’m thinking about involves modern day gaming and developers possibly straying away from true innovation and imagination. I am not completely clinical – not all modern games are terrible or lack creativity. (The Last Of Us, Heavy Rain, The Witcher amongst others are considered, rightly so, masterpieces. But we do not need to use our imagination as much as we embark on our virtual adventures, we are almost spoon fed what we are seeing and controlling which inevitably dissipates the individuality for each player. I’m sure my experience with Final Fantasy was different to most other gamers because the game almost forced you to use your imagination and personal creativity, whether your internal voice sounded different reading on screen text, from using our creativity by filling in the virtual gaps for what the developers wanted to show you if they had the technical capabilities.
Video games are now being created with budgets as big as Hollywood movies, pulling in millions in profits, so if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it? I’m not saying I miss the blocky graphics and fixed camera angles, but I miss its charm. Is it nostalgia? Or creativity? Imagine being at a board meeting and somebody pitches the idea for PaRappa The Rapper. The argument can also be made that this is what the gaming world would have wanted if they had the same technology 20 years ago. But if this was the case I’m sure much would have changed.