What do video games bring us? It’s an easy question for many with different answers for all. Depending on the game, it can educate in strategy and worldly knowledge, amaze the viewer in the spectacular art of the graphics and elements, and can create a community. It can be mindless entertainment; something to do to relieve stress or just enjoy the humor and feeling the sensation of escaping your own reality for a little while. And most bring a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment in either completing the game or solving it’s puzzles and controls. They can be useful, used in rehabilitating those with select disabilities and assisting in training future pilots, scientists, and military. They have become parts of case studies for mental health and have proven to assist in improving it among certain types of people. Video games are welcome to all people, men and women alike. They always have been and always should be and have ways of bringing people together from all over the world. I should know; video games is how I met my future husband. They have become more than just an arcade novelty. Games can now speak to people and bring them together, and the messages these game’s stories can send vary from heart warming to precautionary. It’s why certain franchises get more hype at conventions or last longer than others: they give us something more than surviving the game to think about. If The Legend of Zelda taught me anything, it’s that time doesn’t heal all wounds but controlling it comes in handy if you don’t want the moon to crash into the earth.
But will they continue to grow this way? What does the future hold for younger generations? Will they ever appreciate all that came before the crystal clear graphics and speeds they have now? They will be missing out on blowing into a game cartridge when it won’t load right, to be sure. We are moving along to what was seemingly innovative to becoming the norm: 3D, Motion Sensor, wireless,mobile gaming, virtual reality. Will advancement in technology and social norms change how video games are used, viewed, and developed? And will these changes gain and keep more players and fans, or become too much for them to handle and loose them? These are the things I think about on 16 hour long flights.
For games that focus more on the entertainment spectrum, I think developers can have something special in their newest games if they keep the parts that worked from the originals and pay small homage to their origin in newer games. Some do, like Nintendo, and that may be why they have held onto fans for so long: they are multi generational. I know that my favorite game franchises throw back to its older games in hopes it will entice those like me who remember the simpler time of its first release and engage new players to learn more about the game and its history, story, and mechanics. You have nostalgia and advancement: old and new combined. Adding new aspects of technology sometimes even boost the game’s appeal by improving interaction in a nostalgic element. And when games do this, they have a better chance at staying in place and gaining more consumers. From Borderlands and Portal to Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, this ingenuity breathes new life into the games and excitement in anticipating the next one in the series. And as time goes on, each is prepared for the next set of introduced players. How far can it go? Well, a good long time if you note the evolution of Nintendo’s titles and systems.
I have two homes: Kalamazoo, Michigan and Sydney, Australia. Currently, I am in the sunnier place (Sydney). But on the plane there, I had a father and daughter behind me. When I leaned back to offer my extra pillows to the dad, I noticed his 7 year old was fast asleep with a Pikachu plush in her arms. I smiled, thinking that maybe she saw it at a store and thought it was cute. But later on in the flight, I saw her father reading a Pokemon Pokedex guide book and talking about which ones she liked best from the cartoon show and learning about their abilities. She was a fan! And on top of that, her father was encouraging her interests. I could not help myself. I wanted to do something for her. So I did my best in drawing a Pikachu she could color and I presented it to her letting her know that I loved Pokemon too and that my favorite was Arcanine. An hour later, she gave me this signed drawing of Pikachu romping around in the sun with Kangaroos (or Kangaskans). I couldn’t stop smiling. I love it, and keep it on my office wall now. Charlotte is a wonderful girl and her dad is awesome for being so encouraging in her pursuit of pocket monsters. And as someone that has seen that franchise evolve in the last 20 years, I get the feeling it’s going to stick around for a good while longer if it has fans like my pal Charlotte.
And it reminded me of a major change in the last thirty some years: the generational shift has happened to a point where we are now encouraging enthusiasts instead of shaming them for enjoying a form of entertainment that was considered outside of the norm. Nowadays, it IS the norm! Comics, cartoons, and video games were considered brain rot and a horrible influence on children in the 70’s and 80’s despite the art and educational value hidden within them. The attitude improved slightly in the 90’s, but there was still negativity and blame going around for what was ruining the children of the era. School shootings? Mimicking gang violence? Misogyny? Blame video games!But now you see the “nerd” culture almost everywhere. One of the most popular TV shows in American history is completely based on “nerd culture”and is adored so much by the average public that nerds are even starting to resent it’s parodies like The Big Bang Theory. It feels as if societies on an international scale have seen the art and creativity in these and are interested in progressing their future by using these forms of creativity for practical and supportive means. Whether it helps in training future employees or teaching a recent amputee how to engage their knew robotic prosthetic, the possibilities for the future of games are vast.
I hope that little girl to keeps loving Pokemon. I hope she discovers and explore games if she likes them, or find other fun and imaginative avenues to take as she grows up. I don’t want her gender to be held against her when doing so or expressing her interests in, well, anything. I want her to be happy and grow in learning strategies, morals, and philosophies that may help her later through not jut school, but all media. And I hope that the industries can keep up with her.
What are your thoughts? Write them in the comment section below!