It’s the 2nd day of the Blaugust Event, and I decided to go with a Quote of the Day style post. I’m sure you’ve seen this before, I’m not taking credit as a creator of the idea. Whomever did think of the idea, can consider themselves recognized! Anyway, this quote felt like a good launching point for something that I’ve been thinking about for a while now. It does concern gaming and the ever growing issues of “new shiny syndrome” along with the “backlog.” This might end up being a multi-part series, and will most likely get personal. So, here’s the quote:
Nostalgia is a dirty liar that insists things were better than they seemed.
I stumbled upon this quote while surfing (I’m attributing it to Michelle K. because that appears to be who originally wrote it). I had been doing some research into adult ADD, Hyperfocus and their correlation to gaming. More on that in another post. For now, let’s focus on the nostalgia factor. What is nostalgia exactly?
The term nostalgia describes a sentimentality for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.
This means to be able to experience nostalgia, one must be removed from a particular stimuli for a sizeable amount of time. This gives our brains time to compartmentalize the information and story it away in our memories. If it was a fond memory, nostalgia will overwhelm us as the subject matter is brought up. If it was a not so fond memory, well there really isn’t a direct antonym to nostalgia, but you get the idea. To the point, the quote in question rings true for me in most cases. Thinking about the great experiences I’ve had in particular games, the movies from my childhood, even music I used to listen to religiously, it all fills me with that sense of nostalgia. I am flooded with thoughts about high school, early adulthood, and other bits of my life when things were great and I wasn’t so moody all the time. That’s all well and good, until the truth is discovered. Nostalgia really is a dirty liar.
Why do I think that? Let me ask you a question. When is the last time you fired up a game from ten years ago? How about twenty years ago? If you’re in my age group (early thirties), you grew up with video games. They were in your house as far back as you can remember. In that case, what about those games that released the year you were born or a couple years after? Some games are simply unplayable now, be it because of limitations with graphics, mechanics, or other gameplay values. Others stand the test of time. How do you know when nostalgia is lying to you, or when it is being honest? It’s a hard question to answer.
Think about a movie you loved when you were young, say, pre-teenager. If you don’t already own it, see if you can find it via whatever method you choose, and re-watch it. Notice a difference? Notice how the special effects are rather subpar compared to today’s standards? Did you catch the glaring gaps in the story? The cheesy acting? Sure, you were just a kid when this released, but it couldn’t be that bad, could it? As with games, there are always going to be exceptions to the rule. Star Wars is still great. Indiana Jones is still great. Full Metal Jacket is a classic to this day. But that one movie you watched over and over again? A crapshoot, and you let nostalgia lie to you again.
Remember that band you swore would be your favorite band til the day you died? You even went and got their logo tattooed on you, right? How long was it after the fact that you stopped listening to that band altogether? I remember one of my favorite bands, one that I swore I would always listen to — AFI. I loved them with a passion, and even after many “fans” stopped listening to them, I was still on board. A little backstory — they started out as a punk band, transitioned into a more hardcore/emo/indie post-punk band, and then went completely pop and yeah, that’s where we are today. Most of my friends moved on during their transitory phase between Art of Drowning and Sing the Sorrow. I stayed on an album longer. When Crash Love dropped I couldn’t stomach them anymore. And now I’m all about Death Metal. Go figure. The moral of the story is, even when you get nostalgic about your former favorite band, when you go back and listen to them (or try to catch up with their new stuff) you’re probably not going to be as passionate about it.
The trouble with nostalgia is that it’s a fleeting thing, and it’s something that’s better left in the annals of your mind, as your mind’s eye will probably give you more warm-fuzzies than your actual eyes will. Remember when your parents would tell you that whatever it was that you were really into, wouldn’t last? It’s true. You should have listened to your parents. Now you’re grounded.
No matter what the case may be, you can probably think of at least one item for each column in each of these categories. That being, one game that you are nostalgic about, and having fired it up for the first time in years, it reminds you of the glory days and you can’t wait to finish it. On the contrary, you can find a game that you feel awesome about and then ruin that memory by trying to play it again. Once more each for movies and music. In fact, I’m going to throw this challenge out there to you Blaugust participants. I want a list of 6 items, 2 from each category, 1 good and 1 bad. Use it as a post topic during Blaugust. If enough of you think this is a good idea, write it up and link to this post. If I get at least ten submissions I’ll write mine up too. Think of it as #blaugustextracredit*.
*Belghast has not approved of this message. He might though, if you bring it to his attention.