I remember a time during my youth when I would pretty much play anything and love it. It’s not even that I couldn’t distinguish the good games from the bad, but rather that I simply accepted all games for what they were. I would put as much time into Final Fantasy III as I would the horrific American-ized version of a Ranma ½ game Street Combat
. I knew the latter was a terrible fighter, but I would still spend a good hour at a time playing the hell out of it… which is decidedly longer than any person probably should have ever played that game. My brother’s adolescent girlfriend bought it for me from the video rental place at our local grocery, and I couldn’t have been happier with a gift. Sure, I would go on to fondly remember FFIII as one of the games that defined my childhood, but Street Combat is there too despite its multitude of suck.
So it was a little nostalgic to watch my niece recently clamor about some piece of shovelware for her DS the other day. I could remember times when I simply didn’t care what faults a game had. If it could be played, it could be enjoyed. For a time, even though I would eventually tire of it, even a bad game had its merits and a spot in my rotation. I wish I could have that attitude toward gaming back. Back in my early days as a wee nerd, I would play anything you threw my way. And there are probably more factors than mere gaming naivety involved.
For instance, back then it wasn’t me paying for the software.
Somewhere along the line I grew up, and in my mind “growing up” happens when you start to have to make and spend your own money. It’s a cynical way to view the world, but that’s just it. Because until that point, you might not understand why you don’t have all the coolest new toys like Jimmy down the street, or why you have to wear your siblings’ clothes. But once you start working and you find out just how quickly money disappears… that’s when you become a critic about everything that costs a dime.
So while I’d love to go back to a time when I could blissfully play even the crappiest of games and find some merit in them, it would require me becoming financially “made” and I just don’t see that happening any time soon. It’s not that bad I guess. I don’t really want to play Street Combat anymore, and while I may play plenty of bad MMOs for my work here, no one’s forcing me to continue paying for them once my job’s done. And that’s when one glorious facet of growing up comes into play: the miraculous tax write-off.