Video Games And That Distant Dot On The Horizon

Let’s face facts: the present can be brutal.

We have to work. That often sucks. I enjoy my job, but I’m one of the lucky ones.

You might have to go to school, TAFE, university. There are pressures. You have bills to pay. You have relationships to maintain, problems to solve. You have to sit on a train with your buttchecks wedged in between two strangers. You have to sweat together. Gross.

The past? We’re allowed to lionize the past. Our brains tend to be wired that way. We forget the struggles of the present that was. We forget being stuck on that train with no air conditioning, wedged between two dudes, we forget about the buttcheek on buttcheek action.

We just remember the good times.

And the future? Well, everyone knows that the future represents a glorious horizon of possibility. That’s where our lives get better. That’s where we get our shit together. That’s the place where all of our dreams comes true. That’s the place where we’ve written that best seller, made our millions. That’s the place where we’ve settled down with the woman/man of our dreams and bear children that shit moonbeams. That magical future where we reap all the rewards without without have to deal with the inglorious grind of the present that’s supposed to get us to that point, out there in the distance.

Alright, let’s dial this thing back to video games.

Because the same thing goes for the video game experience. We lionise the past and gaze longingly into the future. It is for this reason that old timers like myself tend to reminisce on the games of yesteryear without any shred of self awareness; only remembering the good times, the great games. Huddling round a CRT with our buddies playing 4-player Goldeneye -- we can vaguely grasp at that feeling. I know I do.

But you know what I’m less likely to remember? The three hours I spend studying for my final high school exams before playing Goldeneye. You know what I’m even less likely to talk about? Those terrible games I played and hated on N64 PlayStation One. Do you know what we never talk about ever? The fact that Goldeneye has aged terribly to the point where I wonder if it was ever that great a game to begin with. The real answer to that question is literally lost in time.

I guess it’s all part of that ‘human experience’. The video games we play in the present often feel like a grind. In themselves they are an escape from that sweaty buttcheek present, yet I often get the sense that what I’m really doing is creating those memories that I will later distort. REMEMBER SKYRIM? REMEMBER THAT TIME WHEN YOU FIRST KILLED A DRAGON? Yeah, sure. But remember that time you totally got lost trying to find that quest giver and you spent an hour walking round in circles?

Nah, not really. Because we’re not built that way.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we don’t enjoy video games ‘in the moment’. Video games can be engaging on a second to second basis. I’ve always believed that the best ones always are, but video games are subject to the same rules as everyday life. We lionise the past, and the present is merely something we have to endure until we somehow reach that mystical end point in the horizon: the future.

At present my life is a bit of a shambles. I’m in the process of moving house, my consoles are all locked up in storage and I’ve been spending every waking moment not working painting my goddamn house. My hands are currently covered in paint. My shoes are covered in paint. I smell like paint. Literally when I inhale oxygen I can taste paint. My present is filled with struggle and pain(t).

The game I’m currently looking forward to the most is Destiny. Destiny is set for release on September 9. By that time I will have fully moved into my new house. That house will be painted perfectly. My furniture will be laid out just like I like it and my 19 month old son will be in the corner crapping moonbeams. I will settle into my comfy couch in that glorious neon future and I will play this perfect video game that currently has no flaws.

I wonder if that’s why we tend to get so hyped about unreleased games. There’s the marketing, there’s that brutal cycle of advertising and bombast but there’s also that little voice whispering in the back of our minds: this game is from the future, that distant unknowable dot on the horizon where everything will be allllriiiiiiiiiight.


Comments

    Goldeneye was hugely overrated, in the same year I was playing Shogo mobile armour division on pc and by the time the N64 was widespread enough for me to have actually played goldeneye I was already playing the original half-life. The only people who thought goldeneye was revolutionary were console fa... gamers.

      Ok Noo... ahem Stoob, the only people really playing PC back Then were the snoody rich kids. But if you didn't have enough friends to play co-op Goldeneye I guess that was the way to go

        Then just like now PC gaming was cheaper than console gaming. people just love turning a blind eye to the fact that console games are about triple the price and a set of 4 controllers costs more than the consoles themselves.

      Goldeneye had a heap of firsts for the FPS genre and was an awesome game. It was certainly king of multiplayer among my peers.

      Until the Playstation I never owned a console. My parents had their own small business so I had access to PCs instead, and used them to play many games. Even so I can remember playing much Goldeneye on a friend's N64 and it was thoroughly awesome. I'd played lots of FPS and RTS, but being able to all sit on the couch and hunt each other down was great. Also the "cheats" were a fun addition to the game.

      I do highly rate being able to have multiple players on the one screen though(especially now that TVs are pretty massive). Just something about it, and it's much more convenient than having a LAN party :P

    See I'm not like you, Mark. I'm a black-hearted pessimist. I remember the long, tedious train rides. I remember my overseas holidays as endless hours stuck on a bus or staring at a toilet bowl all night because I touched the wrong thing. I remember parties as being long nights where I sit off to one side because I have the social skills of a pet rock and don't drink alcohol.

    And the future? I can only see another 40 years of jobs I despise before a penniless retirement and finally dying alone and forgotten in some shithole nursing home somewhere.

    No, it's the present I lionise. I value those moments where I can safely ignore what has been and what is to come and just BE. Video games are part of that.

    *reads back above* Wow, I made that sound pretty bleak. I mean, every word is true but it isn't THAT bad. Ehh, don't mind me. Just cranky.

    Yeah, Goldeneye was 1997, and half-life was early 1998.

    But Goldeneye had four player split-screen, which for an FPS was pretty unique at the time.

    I never played Goldeneye, but man I have Rose-coloured glasses for the original Star Raiders on the Atari 400, which I still believe to be the perfect game (show me something better from 1979), and the original Tribes, playing online, with my best mate doing the shooting, and me doing the moving, because there were too many effin keys.
    And so many other games, Necromancer on the Atari, Miner 2049'er, The 7th Guest on my spanky new $600 CD drive. Aliens Vs Preditor on the Jag, Soul Calbre on the Dreamcast. All of these are perfect in my obviously distorted past.

    Future games are always perfect, as you said, they haven't got a single flaw yet :)

      I clocked up a stupid amount of hours playing the original tribes, It was the first online FPS I sunk any real time into.

    I think is was Eric Idle or Terry Gilliam that said:
    "People say, 'Let's get the Beatles back together' -- well, that just means you want to be young again, not that you want the old buggers to be back (together)"

    "You just want to be young, like when the Beatles were new."

    I think remembering old games and wishing they were revamped has a bit of that to it, it isn't so much you want the game again, but you want that feeling again, of when you were young, hanging out with friends and the whole world laid out before you, with nary a care in the world.

    It's quite funny, i don't remember the big things in games as much as i do the small ones.
    Some of my best gaming memories were me just playing a Tf2 casual at 12 or so at night and not even trying hard.
    at the time i wouldn't have thought i would look back on it as a some fond memories, but i some how have.
    the future for me is getting my ps4 and being amazed by tlou remastered and that will be different for me since i mostly stick to Nintendo or PC.

    Last edited 28/08/14 2:28 pm

    Was that a Linda Belcher style "allllriiiiiiiiiight!" Because that's how I'm reading it.

    There are some games I remember for their flaws, but loving anyway. Like Fallout New Vegas. I played that Day One. And it was buggy as hell. I had never played a game that crashed, stalled and froze my PS3 like that game did, but I remember that as a testament to how much I loved that game and was willing to suffer for it.

    That’s the place where all of our dreams comes true.

    This rather fittingly reminds me of a recent asofterworld comic....

    http://www.asofterworld.com/clean/countingsheep.jpg

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