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Generational Clash Causing Major Rift Between Gamers

In the early days, gamers were all pretty much the same age, primarily because the industry was born beneath our very eyes and catered to a select demographic. But now, three decades later, we're witnessing a generational clash that will most certainly have a profound impact on the hobby we've all come to know and love. Younger gamers and older gamers appear to be a very different breed...

Take, for example, this SlapStik article. First of all, let me support the sentiment stated within: the economy is bad, games aren't cheap, and it may not seem logical to purchase something for $60 that only provides one with several hours of entertainment. In many ways, this is where the downloadable argument comes into play, as many of the younger gamers simply don't care much about expensive discs and would rather have comparatively cheaper digital downloads. And because multiplayer has become a massive phenomenon in recent years, it's a feature that many consider absolutely essential; this also dictates a purchase decision. However, there is something inherently flawed in this train of logic, and to the real gamers, it's an obvious flaw that causes teeth to grind and jaws to clench.

One can easily make the argument that not every game is worth $60, but then again, that same argument can be made for any set of entertainment products. Not every DVD is worth $20, either. We should also remind all the young'uns that video games routinely cost $50 and $60 twenty years ago, and if you factor in the obvious advancements and inflation, I would suggest you get down on your knees and be thankful that games today don't cost $100. But that's not the point. The point is this- the younger generation absolutely doesn't understand the value of certain things. A game is worth $60 for the exact same reason a goddamn text message doesn't compare to actually speaking to someone. With your noses buried in your phones, you've lost the ability to look someone in the eye and speak in a clear, intelligible voice. With nothing but a rental or a digital download, the fleeting experience of playing a game means a great deal less; you have nothing tangible to look upon in the years to come.

No, a crappy game isn't worth $60, but if a game like God of War III comes out and is "only" 10-12 hours long and you don't have it in your collection, that's a colossal waste. Should we even remind everyone that games of yesteryear were really only a few hours long, and the only reason they seemed longer is because it took a very long time to master...? No, why bother? Longevity isn't reliant upon multiplayer. It isn't reliant upon length (and neither is quality, for that matter). We indulge in this hobby because it's fun; because it's a singular form of entertainment that we identify with; because it's something from our past that we value. Anybody who builds a collection of anything is a true hobbyist, one who is passionate about his chosen leisure activity. I don't care if it's collecting bugs; that guy is not going to get the same entertainment out of going to a museum to view specimens as he is looking at his own specimens. We pay $60 for quality video games and keep them because they're a tangible representation of our enjoyment.

I realize this is difficult to understand for those who weren't around during the golden age of gaming. I'm aware that multiplayer is huge, and without it, many gamers (all tending to be of a younger age) lose interest rapidly. I also know that a certain age group seems to lose interest a hell of a lot faster in everything. The bottom line is that, ten years after it came out, I still wanted to play Final Fantasy VII. 15 years after it came out, I still wanted to pop in Super Mario Kart. SMK cost more than FFVII, by the way, but both have paid for themselves ten times over. I didn't need multiplayer; I didn't care that I only played one race the very first time I put in SMK, and I sure as hell don't regret paying the price of admission. In fact, I was very glad I was there at the start, and it all comes flooding back to me when I take a gander at my collection. There are many reasons not to spend $60 on a game, but one had best not lecture others by saying that unless the game is "long" or the person is rich, they'd be stupid to spend the money.

This obscene level of egoism that stands in the face of thirty years of gaming is causing a generational rift. Value, sentiment, tangible, perspective...why are all these words lost on a younger generation? ...can I blame it on the texting again?

3/24/2009 Ben Dutka

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