The Internet Ruined Gaming, Part One
By Matt Jones Saturday, 24 Feb 2007

This is a blog I made way back when. I ended up doing two VERY long blog posts on Blogger.com, and then I kinda just gave up on it due to lack of interest. I’m planning on reusing it here, and then I will have another blog post to follow and comment, because I’ve DEFINITELY changed my tune on a lot of things since. That follow-up post will happen…eventually. So, here goes (remember, IT’S LONG):

The Internet Ruined Gaming

Yup, I’ve said it, I’d say it again if I had to, and I firmly believe it. The internet has taken our glorious pasttime and turned it into a quagmire of disgruntled fanboys and vulgar competition (like my last topic). See if you can follow me…

What was the first big fanboy debate that you can think of? The first time consoles took on other consoles? For me, it was Super Nintendo vs. Sega Genesis. I have to believe that for a lot of people, this was the first one, and the big one. It seemed that everyone had to pick a side. The boys on my block all had one of the systems, but they never had the other. My best friend, Steve, who lived across the street had a SNES, as did Mike who lived around the corner. David and myself, we had a Genesis.

Now, it wasn’t because I didn’t like the SNES that I bought a Genesis. It was because, frankly, I was about 12 years old and had to rely on Christmas and my birthday for any video gaming to come into the house. And seeing as how my birthday is almost a month to the day after Xmas, I had a LOT of time during the year for waiting. It would have been extremely greedy of me to ask my parents to buy not only one gaming console and games for it, but to follow up the next year with ANOTHER game system. I mean, they were already worried enough that video games were keeping me from playing outside enough. They weren’t going to double those odds.

So it wasn’t out of spite that I didn’t own an SNES. It was out of circumstance. I had no problems going over to Steve’s house almost everyday after school and playing SNES games. But goddamn, did I love my Genesis. I mean, I was adamant (and still am) that while I would play the EA Sports games on Steve’s SNES, the Genesis versions I owned were far superior. I grew to love the feeling of speed with Sonic, the irreverent joy of Earthworm Jim, the odd shooting fun of Vectorman, and the great feeling of Aladdin on the Genesis being the superior version. I wasn’t an anti-Nintendo fan. Far from it. I loved my NES and there were plenty of SNES games I liked (Turtles in Time, Super Mario World), but the main reason I wasn’t as big on the SNES was that a lot of the time, I would be watching Steve play RPGs like Breath of Fire and Chrono Trigger.

Anyway, outside of my own world, Sega and Nintendo were going at it, but it seemed at the time to be less cutthroat. I wondered why recently, because I’m sure that if Nintendo could have done to Sega what Sony did with the PS2, they probably would have done it, and vice versa for Sega. And I came to this conclusion: it was because you had to talk to people to argue with them.

Think about talking about politics/religion/video games/etc. To someone in real life. You probably will be more deliberate in what you say, think before you speak, try to monitor your language, and be more persuasive because there is such a great feeling from getting someone to agree with or at least understand your point of view. Humans are social creatures, and I know I get a much more palpable feel of excitement when I can discuss something I find of interest with REAL PEOPLE. Best example is when I go to MAGFest in Virginia. Being able to talk to people who are seriously interested in video games and have strong opinions about certain topics is such a great feeling. It’s like you’re suddenly transported out of the regular world and into a world of understanding. Even something simple as talking football with someone is a great feeling, because you get so many different points of view, reinforce some of your own thoughts, and walk away (hopefully) knowing more and having more to think about.

All of this has changed thanks to the internet. When I post on a message board to people I’ve never seen and never will, I could care less about monitoring my vulgarity (as seen in my last topic) or persuading someone. It becomes (much like this blog) a sermon of sorts, and less of a negotiation or compromise between two points of view. Also, unlike in the past where you were essentially discussing gaming with your own age group, the variance in ages for discussion have increased immensely due to the internet. Sure, a 20 year old brother can talk about gaming with his 15 year old brother, but for the most part, when you talk about games with your friends, and that variance in ages doesn’t really differ all that greatly. On internet message boards, you can run the gamut from 30 year old gamers to 12 year old gamers, and when that happens, the level of discussion changes greatly. I mean, in real life, when you talk your grandparents (if you have any soul whatsoever), you give them the time of day, try to show them some proper respect, and give them a sense of importance in what they are saying. If you did not know your grandparents and they tried to tell you something on a message board, would you even give a damn?

There are always exceptions to the rule. Certain message boards I go to have a great amount of extremely nice and courteous people, who enjoy their passions and want to make everyone feel welcome, as long as they aren’t giant assholes. There are even certain message boards that, while mainly populated with insensitive morons who can’t avoid flame posts, have a percentage of people who post intelligent, well reasoned lines of thought. These are the people that I enjoy reading, because it’s like finding a great pair of pants at Goodwill. Something special about that…

But what I really yearn for is a return to the days of gaming before the internet. When games didn’t have to constantly be released. When discussions were relegated to real life debates instead of message board flaming. When video game magazines were thick as Vanity Fair upon the release of a new game console. When the game itself spoke volumes instead of the spectacle of marketing shows.

It certainly doesn’t give me hope that the one console company I chose to love has gone the way of the dodo when it comes to creating consoles. It’s like how my favorite new show of the season, “Just Legal”, was recently cancelled….Only times 100. It’s like being flicked by a little kid to your left, and when you go to tell him to stop, some guy comes and punches you in the stomach on your right. It’s like something you started to enjoy was ended, and you can’t really do much about it because the market decides what survives. The market has brought so much growth and prosperity, but it can, at times, also damage the soul and what the soul desires…

So while I can hope for a return to the past, the truth is the future is all that lies ahead, and I weep for the future.

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