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Video Game Quarter-Life Crisis

posted on November 3rd, 2006 by golden jew

I may be talking out of my ass (hell, I am), but I read something on Penny Arcade the other day about FFXII that got me thinking. The quote, from Gabe, was in reference to the new battle system in FFXII. I haven’t bought FFXII yet–my only experience was messing around with it at the past two E3’s. So I can’t really weigh in. Anyway, his quote was:

“Kara and I started playing FF XII last night. Only got a few hours in but my initial impressions are actually positive. It’s interesting, Kara is the one playing it and she actually really likes the move away from random battles and turn based combat. Apparently those are not the things she likes about the FF series. She’s a WOW player and FFXII is essentially an MMO without the second M or the O. Last night we were taking quests and grinding mobs. It’s a beautiful game and I really enjoy watching it, I’m not sure how much I’d like playing it though.

Before it came out I couldn’t understand why they would change the combat system so much. In fact after playing the demo I really thought it was terrible. Now seeing Kara play the game it makes sense. It’s not bad, It’s just not for me anymore. It’s for a different sort of gamer and that person will really like it.

Ok, that’s a long quote. Anyway, what got me thinking–are video games now sufficiently entrenched in our generation that we’ve become elitist as they get turned more “mainstream”? Gabe is an MMO player–he’s a huge WoW addict. I could understand why he’d miss the old FF turn based combat system (I probably will as well), but why does he feel it’s no longer for him, when it seems to me it’d be right up his alley? I could see the argument that he plays WoW for WoW and FF for turn based combat, but even so, it seems very out of character to me.

This got me thinking– are we, as gamers, becoming elitist and clicky just because we’re “old school”? Are we video game emo kids–”I played video games when the other kids played sports,” attitude? The way so many of our grandparents reject technology because it wasn’t there in their youth? I thought the whole gamer culture was about embracing change and new technology. I personally hope I always game–even when I have kids, grandkids, and play with my kids (actually my heartfelt dream is to pwn them in FPS games, even when arthritis has dulled my reflexes).

So far nothing has indicated to me this will change for me. But will I one day find myself yearning for the games of my childhood as our parents crave Pac-man, even in the face of superior graphics, sound, interface and gameplay? Are we doomed to become old people, not just in age, but in taste, just like everyone before us? Or are we going to break the mold? Maybe it’s just a manifestation of my quarter-life crisis… but I’m worried now.


  1. Zinco said on November 4, 2006:

    I liked most all of the earlier FF games, but when I played the demo of FF12 I was extremely skeptical. But the actual game is really great. It’s a strange transition but I was able to make it very quickly.

  2. GoldenJew said on November 4, 2006:

    I rolled by a Best Buy on Friday after eating lunch with a friend of mine.  I hope to start it today or tomorrow, and am very interested to see how it is.  

  3. jay said on November 4, 2006:

    Sometimes I think I cling to old games too much. Though something like preferring turn based games to real time games isn’t really a sign of old age I don’t think. A lot of game companies seem to think turn based is old school, which is absurd, and I predict this trend of forcing turn based games into action games will end. Video games are games and there’s nothing wrong with taking turns.

  4. Matt said on November 4, 2006:

    I hope I don’t turn into someone that says "Ya know, in my day…"I try to go with where video games go as well. I still like the old games, but will never get upset that the formulas change over time. Our tastes may get defined more than others, like how you talked about Gabe, but it’s not like we want old-school games per se. We just find our niche and stick with it. 

  5. pat said on November 4, 2006:

    im looking forward to having a lawn solely so i can yell at those damn kids to stay off of it.  i think that changes are good, the problem is the rigid thinking of some of the bigger companies.  sony is in love with 3d despite that fact that some games play really well in 2d.  some places insist on photorealism despite the fact that okami is hailed as a huge success for gaming.  its not progress thats bad, its forcing round pegs into square holes.  this doesnt relate to ffxii necessarily but does speak to whether or not i am old school at the expense of new games.  

  6. Chris said on November 4, 2006:

    I’d like to think that I’ll accept change when it comes and is actually good.  I’m hoping to get a chance to play FFXII sometime soon, as I’ve heard so many good things about it… I tend to play a lot of older games, but I try to give new stuff a chance when I can afford it.  The market’s still growing and there may be as-yet undiscovered genres.  We’ll see what happens.

  7. Joe said on November 4, 2006:

    To be fair though, Gabe wasn’t always so.   Up until KOTOR hit he hated all things RPG.   He only really played FF for the first time after that.

  8. Stefan said on November 6, 2006:

    As someone who’s most commonly-played games are all run on emulators or through DosBox, I have to say indignantly that I am in no way stuck in the past or elitist about old games!

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