Will Video Games Age Gracefully?

Will Video Games Age Gracefully?

Commenter EcksJay22 wonders if video games will hold up as well as the classic films of yesteryear in today’s Speak-Up on Kotaku.

I was playing some Splinter Cell yesterday and remembering how jaw-droppingly amazing it’s graphics were at the time. They were still okay, but a lot of the initial wow factor the game had was naturally, and understandably lost.

This got me to thinking, will games age as gracefully as other media? Great art is great regardless of its age, great music or literature is timeless, and great movies remain amazingly watchable on their own merits, regardless of technological advances.

Games, though, are certainly much more heavily reliant on technology. This is a relatively unique position. Old black & white movies were technologically limited, but great ones stand on separate merits. We can appreciate and love old games, sure, but ‘old’ games are only 20-30 years old. We aren’t at a point where avid gamers are a generation removed from early works. Mario is 20-30 years old, the Wizard of Oz is 75+.

Obviously we can’t know how this will play out, I just thought the technological reliance of the medium will create some interesting and unique dynamics as years turn into decades.

About Speak-Up on Kotaku: Our readers have a lot to say, and sometimes what they have to say has nothing to do with the stories we run. That’s why we have that little box on the front page of Kotaku. You know, the one with “Got something to say?” written in it? That’s the place to post anecdotes, photos, game tips and hints, and anything you want to share with Kotaku at large. Just make sure to include #speakup in your comment so we can find it. Every weekday we’ll pull one of the best #speakup posts we can find and highlight it here.

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  • I guess it depends on what made the game popular to begin with:

    Games that relied on jaw-dropping graphics will seem disappointing when you return to them.

    Those who had decent and enjoyable gameplay mechanics will be enjoyed in years to come because they didn’t rely on a gimmick but solid gameplay.

    Perfect example for me, Deus Ex. I returned to it recently and it’s still as amazing as the first time I played it.

    That being said, I would love if a remake of it did occur.

  • We’re still in the cave-painting level of the art.
    Cinema at least had the theatre to work from.

    Simple, stylised games such as various lunch time wasters will still have an impact, some might still appreciate Super Mario Bros but largely for its historical impact. Future kids will just see it as primitive.

    Right now it’s hard for a game to remain important after a single year let alone 50.

  • I don’t think classic games will age as well as classic movies.

    Old movies still share a lot of the same characteristics as modern movies (the only real difference is the film/effects/editing/etc quality). While old games don’t necessarily share the same characteristics to modern games, because things are getting refined with every new game (I’m talking more about interfaces and things like that, rather than graphics).

    That’s why I think it is harder to play an old game for the first time than it is to watch an old movie for the first time. That’s how I see it anyway. 😛

  • I think the biggest hindrance to games aging well is the UI.

    As said above, good art is good art, so regardless of the poly count, some games will still look good regardless of graphics progression. TF2, Psychonaughts and other games with a strong art style come to mind. It’s the games aiming to look realistic that are going to age the fastest in terms of graphics.

    But coming back to UI being the biggest inhibitor, most games, even those in the same genre control differently, where as the way one interacts with books or movies has always remained the same.
    I’ve been playing Planescape: Torment through for the first time recently, and while the art is great (with the widescreen mod), the writing terrific, it’s the UI that I found to be the biggest barrier to enjoying the game, after many years of enjoying games with further and further refined interfaces.

  • Few games look good down the line, but many still play well.

    Defender, Pacman, Robotron, Asteroids, and Galaga, are all wonderful arcade games from the early 80s that have fantastic gameplay and graphics that have held up well.

    Just like many Hollywood movies are remakes of older movies, plenty of iOS games are just simple reworks/ripoffs of 80s arcade and computer games, with updated graphics. People are more than happy to fork out cash to play “old fashioned” games with modern graphics.

  • (I was writing a nice long post, then I realized that I wasn’t saying anything no said before, so I’ll just state some personal examples)

    When I say aged well, I mean games that are already technologically/graphically aged.

    Aged well:
    * Original Serious Sam games
    * DooM I/II, Duke Nukem 3D, etc.
    * Pretty much all 2D games. (Neo-Geo games have aged fantastically)

    Going to age well:
    * Mirrors Edge
    * Portal
    * BIT.TRIP games
    * 2D games

    Games not aging well:
    * 3D GTA games
    * Call of Duty
    * Plenty of others

    That’s all I can think of off the top of my head anyhow.

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