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