Thursday, 22 May 2008

8 bit thinking in a 64 bit world

by Rabbie Macintosh

As some of you may know, I'm a console buff.

I love the damn things. I can't help it. I have fond memories of every single genre of machine, from the C64 onwards (it's about here that the truly hardcore would scoff at my lack of wisdom of the atari, the BBC, and the other truly early machines. I would give them their due and admit that those were slightly before my time.) and I think that they have really given me a deep seated fascination with almost everything.

Early adventure games led me to question just about everything when I applied it to the world outside the window.

Early action games made me realise that if you get in the way of a car, you will lose.

Early puzzle games placed the foundations for an analytical approach to problem solving, which laid the foundations for a lifetime of supporting broken microsoft products.

Early RPG's, long before the MMO tag was prefix'd, taught me the value of a strong story, and the wonder that it could contain.

I sincerely believe that these games helped me deal with much larger and complex issues in the real world by giving me some real skills towards reasoning, logic, problem solving, and also a sense of wonder about the universe.

I have watched the steady march of technology through the ages and marvelled at the new and awesome toys that have been produced. Hand held technology (pioneered by the Atari Lynx, perfected by the Nintendo Gameboy, overkilled by the Sony PSP.) Advancement in graphics, physics, sound, immersion, emotional content.
Think about this: If you moved someone playing the original arcade of 'outrun' into the present day, their poor head would melt with all the amazing things that we can do today.

There have been other things changing as well. With the advancement in technology has come the massive increase in development costs, and the huge drop in diversity amongst game developers. Gone are the days of games being developed by a tiny group of people, and being incredible to behold nonetheless. I don't wish it were different, but sometimes I kind of wonder if we were still at that stage, would people still be blaming computer games for mass-murder, crime, cults, and anything that they cannot explain within the confines of their limited thought processes?

I have a problem with people laying the responsibilities of their actions at the doorstep of the games industry. A parent turning around and saying "well, I think little Johnny ended up commiting triple homicide and a hit and run was down to playing those awful games..." is just an excuse. It indicates a failure from the parent, both in not taking an interest in their children's hobbies, and also not having a sense of moral responsibility when it comes to what they allow their child to play. I am sure that parents don't allow their children to watch televised violence, therefore, why should digitised violence escape the mantle of parenting? Such lack of action is a failure of concience.

Sure, there is certainly a vast difference in games from the 'classic' genre, and the modern powerhouses of today. The capacity to be able to see everything from the most creative imaginations, to the most depraved violence in a frightning level of detail, colours, and resolutions brings about an entire series of moral questions that I don't think anyone is truly qualified to answer correctly. To even attempt so would take far more space that this page would permit.

Again, this seems to be one of those posts that got lost within itself. I'd like to be able to provide a summary statement which neatly brought a point to bear on the above writing. However, I don't feel that it is my place to inflict such a point on anyone who has read this. It saddens me to see people blame their life problems on games, in the same way that it saddens me to see some of the depraved content that is released by game publishers. It seems to me that the strongest possible way to approach this, as with almost anything, is with a sense of curiosity, and some moral fibre.

Why does that seem so very old fashioned, so very hard, so very 8 bit, in what has become a 64 bit world?






The end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end?



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