Wax Poetic: Egyptians and generations

Everyone knows why the Egyptians built the pyramids right? Pharaohs wanted to be remembered after they died, because even they knew and admired the ones who lived long enough to have one erected in their honor

When I think upon gaming as a whole it becomes a case of wanting to be remembered in a lot of cases. I certainly get asked what my favourite games are by people. What tends to astound me is that a person’s favourite game tends to be either something that came out very recently, or something that came out a very long time ago that they remember. I’m not going to get into a big nostalgia glasses objectivity debate because you all probably know it’s all bullshit anyway. But the running theme that emanates from nostalgia is most of the games people as a whole claim to be their favourites were popular.

Human beings as a whole are adverse to change, adverse to risk. You could see this with PC modifications such as the Nameless mod, which is a very well built total conversion for Deus Ex that takes place on an internet forum, and see I’ve already lost you. One journalist stated that was very likely the reason why most FPS titles center around the grizzled Sphess Marhine One Man Army. Because people understand it better then being some guy on a forum populated by characters based on real people 10 years after the fact.

This allows me to segue wildly into what I really wanted to talk about, which is number scales. This is something most early reviewers and sadly professional journalists still employ. I am not going to explain why numbered scales are bullshit, mostly because it should be fairly obvious. Gaming is an art form, it’s subjective media, and it’s impossible to even remotely judge something based on a logical scale based on something that is, math. Where did the numbered scale originate from? From people recommending things under a prospective purchase.

We are entering into an era where the greatest of video games, from Deus Ex to Ultima Underworld are all purchasable from a single website for similar prices, and it’s here where the numbered scale’s Achilles heel rears it’s face. Namely once you lose the risk of wasting your money you cease to judge things on an arbitrary scale.

Now it’s not going to seem nice what I say but using a numbered scale is lazy. It’s something you do because it’s popular, not because it’s intelligent. Shakespeare once said “brevity is the soul of wit”, and telling someone they should buy Deus Ex for less then 5 bucks is easier when you say it’s a 10/10 rather then spending 5 hours describing everything that it did well. (Which I have unfortunately done to my poor fellow Steam contacts)

And this all brings me back to the Egyptians in some odd way and it’s been something I’ve been thinking about lately. Games that most people claim are 10 out of 10 today, or are “the greatest 100 games of all time” are going to change wildly in 20 years. In 20 years I would be very surprised to see someone put Generation 1 Pokemon in a top 100 games list. In 20 years I would be very surprised if anyone played Pokemon who didn’t do it as a child.

At the same time people still watch things that were made 20, heck 50 years ago. People watch movies from the 1930s that still have relevant messages they take away today. People still watch movies like Citizen Kane, they still read books like Mary Shelly’s Frakenstein, they still understand the reason Shakespeare is popular and why a variant of Macbeth is performed every few hours somewhere in the world.

I am very curious how people will rank NES titles in 20 years, when the only people who have played an NES will be parents or old fogies. I will be very curious to see a generation who has never heard of Mass Effect judge it based on a list that categorized it as the #9 greatest game of all time.

Games aren’t pyramids, but they and their creators are still remembered. And it’s not because some guy said it was a 10/10. I say use your words and explain why something is good rather then give a person an excuse not to listen to anything you have to say.

Written by Doctor Cuddlebug.

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