On Friday 29th November, I will be an owner of the PlayStation 4, a console I am pretty excited to get my hands on and experience properly for the first time, outside expos and conventions. This week I want to diverge from the regular Matter of Perspective, and explore what has brought me to this point, where I will soon be experiencing my fifth generation of console.
Five generations spanning almost twenty years, which is an incredible amount of time dedicated to the hobby of gaming. As I sit here typing, my PS Vita is charging while my PS3 and Xbox 360 sit side by side, waiting for me to pick up the controller and play. In my front room sits the Wii, unused but not forgotten, while my PS2, PS1 and Mega Drive all sit in boxes in the attic. I have a DS and a PSP laying around too. That’s nine different consoles in my home that have given me memories and experiences over twenty years.
Those memories span every emotion that can be felt. I’ve experienced joy thanks to the first time I put the Sonic The Hedgehog cartridge and heard the first notes of Green Hill Zone. I’ve been the rabid fanboy, back when the playground was where the arguments would take place, and not the Internet. I’ve experienced fascination when Pokémon Red and Blue were released, sparking my love for RPGs.
My younger, more carefree days when I could come home from school and spend hours playing various games, were filled with simpler stories. You were the good plumber/hedgehog/knight set out on an adventure to defeat the bad guys and restore order to the game world. Stories that usually took a backseat because all I really wanted was the action.
Over time, I feel gaming has really started to mature and explore bigger themes as I too matured and got older. No longer did I solely want the action oriented, basic story titles but instead something where I truly cared for the characters and what would happen to them. There were points where this happened in my younger days but in the last eight years, on consoles which are no longer “current gen”, more complex stories really took a hold for me.
The time of the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii is as special a time for me as the early 90’s, when I first picked up a controller, purely because it was able to surprised me again. That’s not to say my PS1 and PS2 didn’t give me great joy, but something about the last few years in gaming has hit me in a way that I could not of imagined all those years ago.
New memories have been formed thanks to the passing generation. Of course, joy and delight were given again, but this time I felt other emotions like sadness when a certain character in Mass Effect 3 uttered the words, “Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong.” That moment left me on the verge of tears, something no other game had done before. It’s amazing to me that gaming, something where the majority of the time I had previously spent running about shooting things or collecting coins, has reached a point where a well crafted scene can pack such an emotional punch.
I’ve played a lot of games, if my collection is anything to go by. I hardly trade in games and this had led to a library of titles spanning the consoles I have owned, and I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of them. Those games are more than cartridges and discs – each one is an experience.
Everything from Italia 90 on Mega Drive, a football game which featured a bird’s eye view so you could only see the tops of the player’s heads, became a game my brother and I would play for hours at a time. Almost two decades later Donkey Kong Country Returns on Wii, one of the hardest platformers I have ever played, gave me and my family a similar experience where we sat and navigated the levels together. That sense togetherness is a key element that has only got better as gaming has grown older.
This has evolved and expanded online multiplayer to anyone who has a console and an internet connection. Modern Warfare 2 was the game that really introduced me to online gaming, something which occurred while I was at university. Together with my housemates we would go on our PS3s and play Team Deathmatch and Domination for hours at a time, shouting instructions and warnings at each other through the paper thin walls that made up our house.
The passing generation is special to me for another reason too, and that is TheSixthAxis. It was this generation that I really started following gaming news and reading various sites including TSA. Then just over two years ago I was given the opportunity to join the team and community as a writer. Now I’m News Editor alongside Tuffcub, at a time where we just keep growing, with all of our hard work being supported by a fantastic community that I respect a lot.
Writing for TSA has affected my gaming habits too, broadening my horizons further to games I wouldn’t have looked at before. However at the same time my gaming time has, ironically, diminished where sometimes it feels like I’m writing more about the subject than actually experiencing it. It has turned me into someone who appreciates my gaming time more, not willing to put up with bad design or bad story for too long before moving on. Yet my backlog keeps growing as more games get my attention each day.
Without gaming and the past generations I may have had different interests, perhaps music as I used to blog about that , but I’m glad my path took me here. There’s no doubt the new generation will be filled with news, both good and bad, but I can’t wait to deliver it to you, be it the announcement of a major title or staying up all night watching conferences while on Skype with the team, and reporting on those.
I look forward to the next generation of console and collecting more memories, which I hope to continue to share with you.