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What The Hell Does "Timeless" Mean, Anyway?

It's a term that has been bothering me for some time now; all the more so because I tend to use it too often.

When it comes to instant classics in the video game world, or in any entertainment realm, one of the first descriptive terms that becomes associated with the product is "timeless." In one way, it's presumptuous to assume that such a bold and far-reaching title can be applied to something that has just arrived and in fact, I would feel funny about using it in relation to anything less than a decade old.

But there's an even thornier problem involved, here. What exactly does "timeless" mean? The biggest issue is that such a word is decidedly subjective (except in the case of history where one can say, without fear of error or overstating, that the Mona Lisa is timeless); personal opinion plays a huge role. And I think that's because quality may not be the determining factor. Why? Well, here's where things get a little philosophical: time itself is a ridiculously complex subject and in addition, our memories, and how we perceive them during the passage of time, is almost as complicated.

How we remember things changes over time; our minds are fickle and erratic. Ten years ago, you were stuck in a traffic jam. It lasted two hours, it was 80 degrees outside, and you really had to go to the bathroom. As the years pass, the numbers begin to inflate and the situation becomes more dire (and potentially more comical). Enough time passes, and it was six hours, 105 degrees, and you had to run into the woods to relieve yourself twice. The second time a raccoon bit you in a bad place. And the first few times you exaggerate, you know you're exaggerating. But eventually, it becomes more and more difficult to differentiate...

Clearly, what I'm trying to say is that nostalgia most certainly has an impact on what we call "timeless." For me and for many who were around during the dawn of home video games, Super Mario Bros. was timeless. But I would also say Earl Weaver's Baseball was timeless, because even today, I'd be able to play it and love it. That's my definition of timeless: something that remains fun and entertaining forever, regardless of technological advances. But if we're talking "fun and entertaining," we are definitely referring to extremely subjective words.

Then again, maybe some associate "timeless" with product quality, and don't focus as much on personal experience. But is that even possible? ...forgive me, I'm in a reflective mood.

Tags: video games, gaming industry, best games top games

3/4/2012 11:12:54 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (30 posts)

BikerSaint
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 12:30:02 AM
Reply

Hmmmm,
I'd have to say that timeless for me is only when I forget to wear a watch.

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Russell Burrows
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 12:50:49 AM
Reply

Getting lucky with a hot chick............
Timeless entertainment when we hunted sabertooth tigers, building the pyramids and just as true today no matter the time era.

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Underdog15
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 8:22:59 AM

Timeless is when it's no longer considered "luck".

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 1:21:45 AM
Reply

I think a game is timeless when it can be picked up and enjoyed by gamers of all ages no matter how far gaming has advanced since it released.

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Fox hounder
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 2:07:25 AM

I agree with you.

If one can pick up and play a game that is 15 or 20 years old (or any age) and still enjoy it, it is timeless

Personally speaking of course :)

Last edited by Fox hounder on 3/5/2012 2:12:38 AM

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Bonampak
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 12:35:26 PM

And a perfect example of such a game is TETRIS.

Still sells and people still enjoy it a lot.

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___________
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 1:46:55 AM
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games that stand the test of time, no matter how old they are there still as amazing as they were when they released!
halo combat evolved and half life for instance, 2 games that released and completely changed the industry forever!
and 2 games that are 10 times better then even some of todays best!

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SmokeyPSD
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 3:27:38 AM

Yeah, as I said, timeless being thrown around for games... Halo? Really? Not to single you out but I really don't feel Halo is a timeless offering.

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___________
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 7:39:26 AM

absolutely is a timeless offering.
halo introduced allot of design and controls we now take for granted.
it was one of the first FPS to come to consoles and proved you dont need a mouse and keyboard for shooters!

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bigrailer19
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 10:24:54 AM

I kind of agree, halo is a good example. It may not be old enough quite yet, but it's a good example, none the less. Do I rank it with Super Mario Bros.? Absolutely not. Super Mario Bros did more for gaming as a whole and most anyone can pick it up and play, and have fun. Some may struggle a little more with Halo.

Edit: the more I think about it, Halo may not be considered timeless, but rather considered for what it did, and we shouldnt get the two ideas confused. I don't know if I could pick up Halo today and love it, like I would Something else I do consider timeless.

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 3/5/2012 10:29:44 AM

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Beamboom
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 2:31:40 AM
Reply

I guess Tetris can be called timeless, seeing how it can be nominated as PSN game of the year... In 2012. :D


Last edited by Beamboom on 3/5/2012 2:31:50 AM

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SmokeyPSD
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 3:09:58 AM
Reply

Fritz Lang's Metropolis is timeless. Games have barely scratches the surface though in the end to start throwing that word around, as much as I love the medium.

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JohnnyGold
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 5:27:07 AM
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"not affected by time" is how merriam webster defines it. i would say there are, and have only ever been, 3 timeless video games.

solitaire
mine sweeper
tetris

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nogoat23
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 5:44:34 AM
Reply

In the age of the internet, timeless seems to mean one year. If you're more excited about a game that came out last year than one that is coming out this year, then that game must really be special.

For me, timeless doesn't mean how old a game is, 5 years, 10 years. It means how many times I've played it. If I can play a game over and over and not get tired of it, then that game is timeless for me. With my attention span and the constant flow of quality new games, very few games qualify as timeless in my book.

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ZenChichiri
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 7:38:11 AM
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I have a thing for the side scrolling genre so to me those are the kinds of games I can always go back to. There are 2 for me (aside from the obvious choices of any Mario Bros. game, which are timeless without me having to say) and they are Rocket Knight Adventures and Contra 3. Those games are always a blast and will always be a blast for me to play.

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JackC8
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 7:41:53 AM
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That's why I try to say things like "I have a lot of fond memories of playing the game as a kid, and can still enjoy it today." When people start tossing around hyperbole like "timeless", that's my cue to scroll to the beginning of the next paragraph.

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Underdog15
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 8:25:31 AM
Reply

Well... Chrono Trigger is timeless.

But then again.... it's not!

:o

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CrusaderForever
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 9:24:36 AM
Reply

Timeless is when a game never gets old. No matter how far technology advances the game still stands on it's own two feet.

Timeless classic examples:
All Zelda games
Metroid and Super Metroid
Super Mario 64
Final Fantasy VII
Diablo and Diablo II LoD
Command and Conquer Generals
Star Wars Battlegrounds
Lord of the Rings Battle for Middle Earth
Phantasy Star II - Downloaded the PSP Sega Genesis Collection to my PS3 and then copied it over to my Vita! Been playing Phantasy Star II on my Vita for the past couple of days!
There are many more, but you get the idea.

Edit - Maybe another timeless classic? Motorstorm RC!!!!!
Just in from Playstation Blog! - $9.99 ($7.49 for PlayStation Plus subscribers), but to also let you know that the PS Vita version of MotorStorm RC will also be available as a free download thanks to our partners at Scion. Cannot lose getting a game I was going to buy anyways for FREE!!!


Last edited by CrusaderForever on 3/5/2012 9:29:01 AM

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Highlander
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 9:37:12 AM

You missed a few;

Elite
Space Invaders
Asteroids
X-wing/Tie Fighter
C&C
Civilization
Sim City
Doom (original and best)

Last edited by Highlander on 3/5/2012 9:37:56 AM

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Beamboom
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 11:16:49 AM

Interestingly, pretty much ALL the successful first generation(?) games are good examples of being timeless, cause back then the entire game depended on the mechanics to succeed.

Pac-man, Pong, Snake...


Last edited by Beamboom on 3/5/2012 11:17:02 AM

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Highlander
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 11:36:48 AM

It's definitely about the mechanics and not the presentation.

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Palpatations911
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 5:16:26 PM

Awesome. This should be the first and last time I will ever drive a scion!

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Highlander
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 9:44:32 AM
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Timeless to me is less about a game's production values and more about the game's mechanics. It's about whether or not you can pick it up and play it today, and enjoy it despite the obvious gap in technology.

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Beamboom
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 11:14:13 AM

Oh yeah, it's *entirely* about the game mechanics.

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BikerSaint
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 10:18:32 AM
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For me, Intellivision's Burgertime is atimeless game.

BTW, I don't really like the new reboot of it that came out last year.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 12:42:36 PM
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Food Fight on Atari.

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VampDeLeon
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 12:47:01 PM
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Timeless has many meanings, could be a franchise that has spawned multiple re-releases and is still enjoyable for many generations or a game (may be coupled with nostalgia) that makes it just as fun playing it in the future as it did when it first came out.

Last edited by VampDeLeon on 3/5/2012 12:47:58 PM

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Warrior Poet
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 3:39:45 PM
Reply

I'd say a game is timeless if the gameplay doesn't feel outdated when its technology is. You posted a picture of Mario Bros and that's a prefect example. Mario is very playable today. It's a masterpiece of video game design that will still be remembered forever.

A game that hasn't aged well - say Air Combat - isn't timeless. It's clunky and dull and just not very interesting. Ace Combat 5, on the otherhand, is a "timeless" gameplay experience that will probably never feel outdated. It's so smooth and intuitive, and the story it tells is powerful.

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Nasty80
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 6:44:48 PM
Reply

Bill laimbeer's combat basketball,...i kid.

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Rogueagent01
Monday, March 05, 2012 @ 11:07:08 PM
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"Timeless" for me personally involves two specific things. 1. It needs to appear simple at first glance, and 2. when you dive in deeper the complexities need to stand out.

Ben you using the Mona Lisa is a great example for me as everytime I see it from afar I think whats the big deal, however I downloaded a high res version of it once and looked really close and noticed what the big deal was.

A couple of the games that are timeless for me are,

Sim City(PS1), Railroad Tycoon 2(PS1), Missile Command(Atari), Legacy Of Kain: Blood Omen(PS1), Star Ocean 2(PS1), FF VIII(PS1), Persona 2 Eternal Punishment(PS1), and almost anything in the RTS genre, most notably the Command & Conquer series and FF Tactics.

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