Gaming today is vastly different than when I was growing up. I still enjoy playing games today, but sometimes I feel there is something missing. I have over thirty years of gaming experience and as I’ve transitioned from the 80s to the 90s and then the 2000s, I’ve seen quite the transformation in the industry. We are months away from 2020 and the nature of video games as we know it today is nothing like it was when Saturday morning cartoons were still a thing. As much as I enjoy my PS4 and Switch, there are things I miss about the bygone era of gaming. What follows is a list of what I miss the most from when I was younger.
To save you time in regard to leaving comments, I know some of these things aren’t gone completely. There are definitely one or two activities mentioned below that you can still do, they’re just not as prevalent as they used to be.
My brother and I have always been two different people in every way. Our personalities are polar opposites. I was always the sci-fi and video game nerd, while he was the sports and music guy. This isn’t to say my brother didn’t like video games, there were just very few he ever got into. One such game he loved was the original Halo; something about it just clicked with him.
We used to love playing Halo split-screen co-op together for hours. There may or may not have been whiskey involved, but that only made it more challenging. We played the game so much, we started to get into a routine. I would go one way and he’d go the other. I would get into this warthog, while the next, I’d be the gunner. The same cues on the same levels, over and over again. We just knew what the other was thinking without ever saying a word. Eventually, we were playing on the hardest level possible and kicking ass every time.
The funny thing is, we loved every minute of it. No matter how repetitive it got, or how by the numbers we played it, the two of us couldn’t get enough. If it was a busy day and we were both too tired to go out, my brother would look at me and simply say “want to kill things?” That’s all it took to boot up Halo and play the night away. We eventually graduated to Halo 2, though it never could quite live up to the original.
Not Knowing Everything Before a Game is released
It’s hard to imagine a world without the internet, but it did exist. These days, we can find out everything about an upcoming release in a matter of seconds. Screenshots, videos, level designs and more are all a click away. There’s very little a company can do to keep a secret in the age of the internet.
When I was growing up, we only knew what Nintendo Power or other such publications told us. These magazines were filled with rumors and small low-res screenshots, and that’s all it took to get us interested. We knew very little, and that’s what excited us the most. Gamers had no idea if a game would turn out to be a dud or the greatest thing we’d ever played until it was released.
Instruction Manuals Included
I miss instruction manuals, especially the old school Nintendo variety. It wasn’t just about learning how to play the game. The manuals always had awesome artwork and were usually filled with the game’s backstory. They were fun to read and I loved collecting them. I can’t remember when companies stopped making them, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen one.
In a previous post, I talked about how all my old NES manuals were thrown away years ago and I never forgot about it. Most people don’t even give it a second thought, but for me, reading through a manual after opening the plastic was all part of the experience. If you grew up in the age of ‘no manuals’, you’ll never quite know the feeling I’m talking about.
Complete Gaming Experiences
This might shock most readers, but video games used to be complete when shipped to retail stores. I know, it sounds far-fetched, but it’s true. When you bought a game back in the day, it was a completed journey from start to finish. There were no patches, DLC, or updates. What you bought was what you got.
More often than not, it seems we are getting games today that are shells of what they should be. Experiences shipped with minimal content to satiate appetites, but little in the way of great gameplay; I’m looking at you No Man’s Sky! It’s not until updates and DLC (free or paid), the games grow into robust playable titles. Not all DLC is bad mind you, but when a game is sold to consumers that’s half-finished that’s where I draw the line. I miss the time when I could buy a game and know that it was a fully fleshed out adventure.
The Days When Multiplayer Gaming Was Not The Main Focus
In the world of video gaming, multiplayer used to take a back seat to single-player missions. When I was growing up, the only multiplayer you really found was on PC with RTS games like StarCraft and Command and Conquer. Consoles didn’t have much in the way of online play aside from split-screen co-op.
Gaming today doesn’t just put an emphasis on multiplayer, it seems to prioritize it. I understand that’s where the money comes into play, but what about those of us who want a really in-depth solo experience? Why does everything have to be so multiplayer focused all the time? I’ve been playing The Last of Us Remastered in preparation for the sequel, and it’s an incredible solo adventure. There’s no major focus on multiplayer, no leader boards, nothing but me and the world I’m exploring. It’s an incredible game.
Multiplayer games have their place and they bring players from all over the world together. It’s an amazing technology that I could never have dreamed about when I was a kid. I just wish sometimes we didn’t focus on it all the time.
The Anticipation Of A New Gaming System
Is it just me or has excitement for a next-gen system release lessened over the years? NES to SNES was a big leap. SNES to N64 was even bigger. PS1 To PS2 was huge and Xbox to the 360 was incredible. With the next PlayStation and Xbox offerings on the horizon, I feel little to no anticipation. I am sure the improvements will be great, but I’m skeptical of how revolutionary they will be.
I used to get excited when I learned about a new system in the works. There was a real sense of evolution with each generation. However, when you’re going from a PS4 to a PS4 Pro, it’s like upgrading to first-class from Business. Sure, the amenities are slightly nicer, but they both serve champagne. With the PS5 headed to living rooms everywhere, it will undoubtedly be great, but I’m good sticking with the luxury of my PS4 for now.
And the List Continues…
There you have it, folks. Just a few things I miss about gaming back in the day. You can still play games split-screen co-op and there are amazing single-player titles, but it all feels different. I’m curious to see what are some things you miss about gaming when you were growing up. Let’s commiserate together with the loss of our favorite experiences.