Honestly, when I try to think back to what I was like when I was still in school, it’s mostly a blur. Gaming is one of the few things that I can remember. Unlike your socks and probably like your tasteless curtains in your living room, games consoles change once every five years or so, so they’re easier to remember than the teacher you had for Chemistry a few years ago, or whether you really did get an A on that test in primary school.
Regardless, I’ve come to a conclusion, and that conclusion is that my gaming habits have changed, simply because of the way the market has shifted. I am now a corporation’s money-pawn. So why doesn’t that bother me?
Way back when, when I first got my Mega Drive and my VIC20, I was pretty much up for any game. I loved AlienStorm and Streets of Rage as much as I loved tearing around the racetrack in some knock-off Formula 1 game. I adored Speedball 2 when I got it (and yet that hasn’t changed, so I bought it from XBLA), and Sonic was one of those games I completed over and over, simply because I could, and I was waiting to have enough money to buy Sonic Spinball. My VIC20 was no different. The internet was young, and because of that it was full of techies and people like myself, but back then. I got my Dad to print off sheets of code from the internet, all Commodore BASIC, and spent hours putting the code in, checking all of it, and then recording it to tape as a complete game. It wasn’t piracy, because the games were created for free anyway. You bought a magazine that had nothing but these scripts and pages of codes for making games.
Next up was my N64. Somehow, I managed to miss Goldeneye, and I was still grabbing any cart that I could, that was going on cheap. I never really had an opinion as to what was good and what was bad. I didn’t really care; I bought it, and I was going to bloody well enjoy playing it. Back when my pocket money could get me 1 game a month (and an old game at that) after I traded in a title with my Mum, I didn’t really compare games.
My PSone changed all of that. I bought it along with a cool ‘drawer’ that sat underneath my TV. Whenever I wanted to play a game, I just pulled it out; the console was pulled out, and the controller holders fell down at an angle. All I had to do was grab one, pull down the cable-caddy, and turn it on. Shit I loved that thing, because I started a magazine subscription to Official Playstation Magazine. I got a stackload of demo discs, and finally I could play a game without buying it, and still make a decision on whether it was good or not. I had a magazine with reviews, and I could grab good games when they went cheap.
Same thing happened with my Xbox. Got a subscription, and got a load of demo discs. Here was when my habits started changing. The lack of racing games coming out meant that I was geared towards shooters. Halo and Halo2 added to that, and hybrid games like SW: Battlefront added to it.
Now, I have a Wii, a 360, and a PS2. Out of all those, I have no Racing games. None at all, only a demo on my 360. No real RPGs (Discounting Mass Effect because it took the middle ground), either. I have shooters, beat ‘em ups, and Flight sim games, with the odd MGS or GTA. I really should go down to Blockbuster sometime soon and buy an old Moto GP game.
Thinking about it, it’s almost depressing how niche-like my games interest is. From my collection, it looks like if there isn’t a gun of some sorts, or a fist being flung or a weapon being slung, I’m not interested. But my PC collection says otherwise: Re-Volt, and the first two McRae games say that I like racing. Almost sad that I’ve never put those in my CD-tray in years.