How Generation 3D Has Changed Videogaming
It looks like gaming is finally at the end of a glorious road. The thirty-two and sixty-four bit systems which are now considered outdated by many gamers, have undeniably left a mark on the face of videogaming. The most significant revolution in the history of electronic entertainment has changed the way we look at games, and above all the way we play them. Read on, and look back on the moments that defined a generation, and the generation that defined an art.
Before the generation of depth, the greatest challenge of videogame developers was to produce images that didn't induce vomit. Needless to say, not all games succeeded. Also needless to say, the most obvious change to videogaming with the 3-dimmensional systems was a cosmetic one: the games looked better. The new systems genuinely made videogames more visually appealing, and that was one of the biggest changes in gaming history. Developers no longer tried to make games look "not bad" or "respectable," but they tried to make graphics part of the experience; and rich graphical quality became a major storytelling device (whether this is desirable or not is subject to debate). I'm sure everyone who played Final Fantasy VII recalls the death of Aeris. That was one of the first scenes ever in a videogame to use CG effectively. It was one of the most emotional scenes in a videogame; period, and whenever one looked back on it, a chill is sent down the spine. This new group of powerful consoles made possible such modern classics as Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Gran Turismo, and Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Aesthetically systems grew more powerful with that technology burst, and because of this the majority of videogames ceased to be mindless diversions (granted not all games before the great leap were deserving of this label; there were always Squaresoft RPGs, Zelda games, and other classics; but quite a few games from that period were much less worthy than mindless diversions), and truly did grow into art.
Aesthetics in videogames, however, are truly the ultimate double edged sword. As mentioned above, the group of thirty-two proved to third party developers that graphics could sell. The newer technology emphatically declared that the consumers of this industry were somewhat shallow (on the whole) and; if given the choice, would take eye-candy from strangers over quality, meaningful games from trusted developers. This changed gaming in more than a cosmetic sense because it affected gameplay, storyline and premise, and innovation as well (basically, they were no longer needed). Look at games like Final Fantasy VIII, for example. The game was looked upon by many critics as a disappointment; a let-down to the lofty Final Fantasy name. Then how is it that the title has been certified a greatest hit? Simple: the game pushed the graphical limitations of the Playstation beyond any game in previous history. In all fairness, many would argue that the story had a deeper meaning, and they'd be right. But when matched strike-for-strike against the Super Nintendo classics (FFVI, Chrono Trigger, Super Mario Brothers, and Zelda: Link to the Past, just to name a few) which were forced to write quality material and come up with original gameplay because of the lack of developed aesthetic value, they fall short. Like they always say, necessity is the mother of invention. The fact is, graphics aren't the most important factor in a game, and that's all some of the recent titles have given us on Playstation. And it's all because the world of 3D has proven to us that the glitter in a vacuous title can sell; and sell big.
Well, there you have it. No matter what your stand happens to be on whether the change of the thirty-two and sixty-four bit systems was positive or detrimental, the fact that the face of videogaming has been altered by them is incontestable. With the coming of the one-hundred-twenty-eight bit systems, we can only hope that the flaws of the previous era will be rectified, while still pushing the high points forward. Only time will tell if this is to be the case.
10/10/2000 Bryan Keers