“The Next Generation” will be the most written phrase on this website for the rest of 2013. Everything about our pastime/hobby/way of life has geared us up to crave the next step, the next evolution, the next technological leap, and this generation has exacerbated that fact, with its extended lifespan in the face of economic morbidity.
In a society where we’re all now hyper connected – to information, and to each other – we’re able to discover, digest, and deride every single morsel of information that the console makers provide, and in many cases the information they don’t provide too. We’ve been labelled “insatiable” by Nintendo’s Reggie Fils Aime, and we are.
Now, however, it has to be considered that we will never, ever be satisfied again.
No matter what final feature sets we see in the PS4 or 720, there’ll be some part of it amiss. Discrepancies or hang ups will be texted, tweeted and updated before the new console smell has faded away, and even if that issue isn’t yours, it’ll become yours.
Mass Effect 3 has taught us that if we rage long enough and loud enough important people will listen, and it was a poor lesson to learn. That sense of entitlement, coupled with the camaraderie of our friends list, will ultimately still only lead to shared and amplified dissatisfaction.
Even the most ardent supporter of Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft has to admit that they all have their flaws. We’d be foolish to believe that the next generation will suddenly make the issues they’ve had previously suddenly disappear; sooner or later, the patches, upgrades and add-ons will reach their limitations and the only way to remedy them will be to turn to the next, next generation.[drop]Many of us have grown up with this industry, and in those early years you lived in the happy surety that your console was simply the best one because you loved it. Whether you were playing Centipede on an Atari 2600, Mario Bros on the NES or Quackshot on the Megadrive, it was a more personal experience.
The connection between you and your machine was absolute, and without the weight of expectation of feature sets, online infrastructures or co-operative play there was fundamentally more time for enjoyment.
Perhaps the combination of our own youth and the relative youth of the industry amplified this, and that sensation will never be recaptured. Even if you did ever experience the pangs of jealousy at your best friend’s system, assisted by the goading of Mean Machines or CVG, you didn’t have a digital world on hand to dismantle your own console’s every last shortfall. Sadly that’s all we can ever look forward to now.
We can of course hope that software will transcend all of this, and at times it will. The next generation will give developers even more opportunities to break expectations and to create something meaningful.
Games like Journey and The Unfinished Swan will hopefully become more prolific as gaming matures, and perhaps that maturity will extend to us as gamers. Our industry is tied in so many ways to adolescence and adolescents are rarely satisfied. A next step absolutely needs to be taken for us to avoid being in a constant state of disappointment.
Let’s hope we don’t have to wait until the next, next, next generation for that step.