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The staff of gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

The Elusiveness of Ignorance

Posted by BillMurphy Tuesday August 24 2010 at 4:15PM
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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.
Latella writes:

It is quite funny to me that you made this article because yesterday i started thinking about this and ended up playing the infamous "Tennis" and "Nintendo World Cup"  games for the Game B(oy)rick.

And yeah, it is pretty much true, in our childhood we could spend hours after hours playing games we would never beat and yet we had way more fun than what we have now with most of the games we end up playing.


Tue Aug 24 2010 4:49PM Report
ZoeMcCloskey writes:

Ignorance really is bliss.

Tue Aug 24 2010 5:38PM Report
Senadina writes:

I'm sure I am older than you, because there were no video games until I was 11, and then they were arcade only for me. I didn't get an Atari until I was 18 or so, and by then I was more discriminating. However, all those games were so primitive, and yet we loved them. Now, if the graphics aren't up to par, I don't play. A different kind of loss of innocence.

Tue Aug 24 2010 5:57PM Report
Stormwatch writes:

I seem to be the only person on earth that had a CBS colecovision console back then, with Donkey Kong and Mouse Trap. Donkey Kong was extremy difficult and I could only get to the third (or so) stage. With Mouse Trap (a more advanced Pac-Man type game) I spend a lot of time, and there was basically nothing than the same game play patterns all the time. It was fun.

It also has to do with the number of games, I guess. I notice a similar thing with music. Now that I can carry my whole music collection around, individual albums or songs aren't that important anymore. I will often skip around. I almost "meta listen" to samples rather than full songs. I rarely have the time and state if mind that I listen to a full album start to finish. Of course I am inclined to say that's a bad thing, but this notion is also irrational on a second glance.










Tue Aug 24 2010 7:48PM Report
maplestone writes:

If it could be played, it could be enjoyed.

Actually, considering how much time I spent fidding with Master of Magic (which would consistently crash under various ordinary every-game conditions such as attempting to render a unit of wraiths) or the Spelljammer D&Dish game (which would crash and destroy saved games for no apparent reason every so often), I'm not sure that even "if it could be played" was an entirely required condition.

It's not really ignorance that allows enjoyment - it's powerlessness.  As a child, you have to accept the world as it is presented to you and find a place in it.  As you get older, you develop an expectation of being able to control your environment.  When things don't go your way, you try to change it - and this can lead to frustration and resentment when you fail.

When it comes to MMOs, I'm still able to switch between "critical consumer mode" (while logged out) and "finding joy mode" (while logged in).

Tue Aug 24 2010 7:51PM Report
jdlamson75 writes:

I certainly remember those days.  I remember when I got an old Atari, and for my birthday, I received the game pitfall.  I and a buddy of mine played that thing all afternoon.


And as far as that Colecovision goes, one word:  Venture

Tue Aug 24 2010 8:20PM Report
Khalathwyr writes:

If you miss those old games look for a Console Game Exchange (CGX) store near you. I just picked up a working 8-bit NES and a Sega Genesis system there today. This after unsuccessfully ordering a NES over Ebay (didn't work when it got here from FL - Knew there was a reason I never used EBay before and now I never will again).

Retro-gaming FTW.

Tue Aug 24 2010 9:26PM Report
devacore writes:

I still find koei games fun but yes you do evolve as we age.  I do value growth if not we are nothing more then rats in a James Olds experiment. 

Tue Aug 24 2010 10:14PM Report
preston326 writes:

'Wisdom comes with age' -Golem from BattleForge

I guess thats the other factor. I remember in my younger days we played Knight Online. Its totaly outdated, boring, grindy, bugged, full of bots F2P MMORPG. But it was our very first MMORPG and we played it and had fun. We did not know that there are hundreds of F2P games. We thought its the best online have eva! and we just had tons of fun... in super grindy game.

Wed Aug 25 2010 2:54AM Report
thepatriot writes:

I find myself getting angry at games now when things take an unexpected turn for the the worse and I fail at in game, especially repeatedly.  With very little time and money to play games as a married father of 4 I get frustrated when my playing time is thwarted with repeated wipes.  Yet I remember as a  child being enthralled with the lame single color 8 bit players (sprites) that had little to no resemblance to anything in the real world.  

Wed Aug 25 2010 9:36AM Report
SnarlingWolf writes: Stormwatch I see your colecovision and raise you a Texas Instruments console where some of the games had to be loaded via cassette tape and would take like 15 minutes to load up the game, just to die and have to reload from a casette to start over again after 1 minute of playing. I don't even think it is just age, I think it is modern society. Back in the day people didn't feel owed anything by game companies, games were just games. Now a days every gamer on a forum things the developers directly owe him what he wants to see in the game, there is all this entitlement bullshit going around that it is disgusting. I blame the currect state of society more then the loss on innocence due to growing up. Wed Aug 25 2010 10:47AM Report
astoria writes:

HAHAH. Yeah. The first video game I remember was Oregon Trail @ around around 1980. Seven Cities of Gold was the bomb tho a few years later.

I will critique games on official forums in hopes they improve. And. Sure I played UO and miss some aspects, but am not in the nostalgia camp. Even games I consider medium quality now are 10x better that what I had as a kid.

Wed Aug 25 2010 3:17PM Report
Joarnaj writes:

Ha Ha! I have first memories of a variety of systems.

Atari - Space Invaders. My brother played 6 hours straight on normal without losing 1 guy. Finally quit because his thumb was too sore to continue.

Apple II - Aztec

Vic 20 - Hunt the Wumpus

Commodore 64 - 7 Cities of Gold! (Thanks for the memory, astoria.) Also - MULE, Summer Games, and Maniac Mansion. But these are runners up to the greatest game ever: Ultima IV. I spent about 10 hours per day for 2 straight summers playing UIV. When the game ran out of story for me, I started building ship bridges to connect all the islands with the main land. I had issues.

NES - Tecmo Super Bowl!! Still pull out the emulator from time to time!

Wed Aug 25 2010 8:34PM Report
Zarcob writes:

I think you just need to find better prices.  Short of a game causing my computer to burst into flames when I install it, I don't really care how bad it is if I found it in the bargain bin or plucked it off Steam for 9.99.


Now, a 59.99 price tag for a game riddled with bugs or glaring design flaws - that would certainly get under my skin.  But I try to reserve paying premiums for games unless I'm certain I know exactly what I'm getting.  There are a bevy of game review sites available nowadays; its kind of hard to get blindsided by content or bugs.

Tue Aug 31 2010 12:03PM Report writes:
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