Retrograde Perspective: A View Of Generations Past

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.

SonicGreenHill

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.

MW2

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.

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17 Comments

  1. A nice read, it’s making me get hyped for this Friday!! Can’t wait to see what the next gen offers us.

    I think the only real time that I genuinely got upset by a video games’ story was when the wonderful flower girl in FFVII passed. Where’s a Phoenix Down when you need one?

  2. being an old git i think i have seen more generation changes than Dr who..
    first my Atari 2600 then my master system , followed my my mega-drive.
    its fair to say that i have had at some point every mainstream console albeit Nintendo Sega ms or Sony.
    i have seen generation changes come and go and i think this gen (ps3,xbox)has served the test of time.its been a great 8 years and i have enjoyed some cracking games on both platforms.
    now looking forward to the PS4 and probably the xbone.
    RIP Dreamcast…

  3. Respect Aran, I feel similar about the prospect of the immersion, surprises, and for me the social aspect, not the bull crap Facebook friends list nonsense, real audio and now video comma as well. Should be great for keeping us all young for a bit longer… Friday is so far away though !

  4. My earliest was binatone tennis, you can’t get more basic! Next up was Atari 2600 woody then ZX81…

  5. Nice read, I do love a bit of nostalgia. Speaking of next gen…who here is getting a PS4 AND upgrading their HDD on day one? I was thinking of doing that then wondered if I should wait a while instead of doing it right away….i’m not sure! :/

    • I won’t be getting a PS4 right away but I will definitely be upgrading the HDD straight out of the box.

    • I have taken delivery of a 1TB solid state hybrid drive ready to pop in my PS4 come Friday ;)

      • The Hybrids seem to be a very good choice for the PS4 and I might go that way myself. Tests showed it was nice and quick whilst being sensibly priced compared to true SSDs, etc.

        Enjoy! :-)

      • Thanks for the replies guys. Could you link me to this hdd you are referring to? I still haven’t bought one yet.

      • Yeah in the comparison videos I’ve seen it’s shaving a fare few seconds off of a standard drive,installing and loading of games COD/Battlefield was quicker by 20 30+ seconds and Resogun was like lightning compared to the standard drive,I did see a company do a video with two PS3’s side by side one with the hybrid and one standard he had the same game on both with the same save,he backed out to the games menu and loaded the save the hybrid loaded it twice before the standard one loaded it the once and for the extra few pounds I thought I may as well go the hybrid route.

      • This is the one I plumbed for RocketSol its gone up by about a £5 since I ordered it http://www.amazon.co.uk/Seagate-Laptop-Solid-State-Hybrid/dp/B00BHRWHNI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385388208&sr=8-1&keywords=sshd

      • Thanks for the link. Blimey, it’s about £40 more than the standard 1TB hdd I was going to buy. I guess speed comes at a price! :)

      • No worries and yeah they ain’t cheap but I paid £70 odd pounds for my standard 1TB hard drives,but then I’ve seen 16gb solid state drives at around £150 mark and the one in the link has 8gb of solid state memory.

  6. Lovely article, fella.

    The hobby itself is testament to how much we love it. I’ve enjoyed gaming since the ZX81/BBC Model B days and continue to utterly love each new generation.

    Best of luck with the new acquisition this week. :-)

  7. I’ve been through soo many gaming generations that I am actually pretty nonchalant about the next/new generation.

    I’m not sure why really – but I think there are a combination of reasons. Firstly, there are soo many games on the PS3/360 that I’ve yet to had the time/money to play. Secondly, there are no interesting games out on PS4 or Xbone. Thirdly, I don’t know which one to go for.

    Last gen was, for me, a no brainer. For ages the PS3 was, in my eyes, a bad choice. More expensive, flopping exclusives and multiplats that were inferior to the 360 version.

    This time around it’s a harder choice. Xbone has (personally) the better selection of games, but the PS4 looks like a better dedicated gaming unit (almost a reverse situation of the PS3/360).

    With all that said, I am sure something will come along that will make the choice for me. I was sitting on the fence last time until Oblivion came along and knocked me off it.

    Nice article btw

  8. Great article Aran. It’s amazing how our consumption of news and opinion has changed in the last two decades, from demo disks in magazines and playground banter to beta access with preorders and YouTube comment trolling. My first games were Blast, Dark Ages and Duke Nukem on a DOS PC, Sonic on the Game Gear came along shortly after, now the addiction is incurable!

  9. Great article! Enjoyed reading it especially as it almost identical to my gaming history, from the gaming with my brother back in the day all the way to lack of time for as much gaming as I would like nowadays. So looking forward to this Friday and the ps4, booked a week off to really enjoy it, can’t wait. Keep up the great work.

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