This is inspired by Jake Baldino’s Q&A video and my own response there.
I guess Jake is about my age at the time of writing (35-ish), so he knows the days of gaming i’m talking about, although I lived in another area of the world, I guess our experience was quite similar.
The stereotypical gamer
You got the 90’s and early 00’s stereotype of the white kid gamer/loner, but it never was like that. We weren’t lonely and gaming. Gaming to me, back in those days, was like reading. I sat on the couch, just playing my gameboy. That was my kind of gaming in the 90’s. Gaming also never was anti-social to me. Gaming always was social. My earliest memories of connecting with people was through the medium of gaming or talking about gaming. I remember getting eye-surgery at 4 and seeing a kid with a gameboy and he let me play it for a while and that is what made me want one too. Which I eventually got, and almost everyone had a gameboy back then. I still have mine.
I still remember going to my neighbours and playing nintendo (especially the turtles games come to mind and super mario). They had the system and they let me join in. Taking over my gameboy and just playing each others games also regularly happened. Them backseating and helping me through difficult stages. Going to cousins also was done through gaming. I took that thing everywhere with me. Getting excited when we both got new games, because it meant that we got to play more games. My cousin had a sega, I eventually got a second hand super nintendo and we gamed on both systems. There was no war of better consoles back then. It was just gaming. Sonic was not seen as better or worse, bitrates weren’t compared (we didn’t even know what they were). Sonic was seen as the unique thing it was back then. We gamed together, taking turns, just enjoying the act of gaming.
Going to the carnival and playing games on arcade, as in our little town we didn’t have dedicated arcade halls. When we saw an arcade somewhere in a poolhall or bowling alley, we flocked towards it and played a couple of games. Lanparties were a thing as well. Early 00’s was when I had my first one. Diablo 2. Quake 3. Seeing people run after eachother with a chainsaw because they ran out of bullets had us all in stitches. Hours of gaming on Unreal tournament 2004 with the triple jump and instagib mod. Taking our gaming rig to a friends house and order pizza and just game (2012-2014-ish).
The internet is oversaturated now with information. People can complain about literally anything with literally anybody. Anybody who has an opinion has to post it. Yes, I do as well. But discussions for the sake of discussions just become noise. Console-wars might have happened back in the days, but it wasn’t felt under gamers. We were just gaming. It was a marketing thing back then. Now it’s literally gamers getting mad at gamers. For no reason at all. No console is better than another one. I have a favourite because I own it and I happen to play on it more than on my other console. Both have different purposes in my life. Doesn’t make any better than the other.
Gaming back in the day was different too. We only had a couple of games. My parents couldn’t afford the latest and greatest, so I had to wait or just play what I had. This instilled a love in me for games nobody else played. Do you still remember the first game you owned on gameboy? For me it was Super Mario land 2 and teenage mutant ninja turtles: fall of the foot clan. I finished both endless times. Now, we have 100’s of games on different consoles. Back in the gameboy era, I might have had a dozen. Access to maybe 50-100 by how many people I knew. Super Nintedo, I might have had a dozen or so. Playstation idem ditto. Playstation 2 I started to earn a little money myself and I got 30-40 games. Xbox 360 I bought myself and got maybe a dozen games for, played more thanks to friends lending me copies and I was bigger into pc gaming, which I had 50 games, still on disc. Now on xbox one, I have more than I might have ever owned, combined and access to even more, thanks to gamepass, which has never happened before.
The way I grew up and how the times were, I played the bargain bin games or had to wait for a sale to come up, so I never got to play the latest and greatest games. I only got a more expensive title once or twice a year on holidays, or I had to save up money for it. I missed out on a lot of titles, but got to play a lot of titles as well. I played the first gran turismo on playstation. Played the original tomb raider games. I played turtles games on NES, SNES and all other consoles. I played the first sonic on Game Gear and Sega, while not owning either. Now, gaming has gone widespread, back then it was a nerds hobby. I have been teased when I was into gaming back in the early 90’s. Gaming started to become only really more mainstream when the playstation released here in Belgium. Then everybody was gaming. Adults and kids alike. Yes, my aunt played the occassional tetris or sonic, my mom played tetris or whatever game was easy to pick up, but with playstation adults started to get interested. Really interested. It only grew from there. Gaming stores started to pop up and really became a big thing (talking specifically about Belgium here).
Playstation and early 00’s is where things really kicked off and bargain bins started to happen.I saw GTA on playstation at a store for the first time. (talking about the top down one). Gaming was everywhere. Gaming magazines started to circulate and became easier to get, even in my little town. Playstation 2 was even better. During my teens I used to browse a local cd store for hours, looking at the latest game titles and seeing what got in store that time. Nintendo kept doing it’s thing, sega had died out of the console market by that time. Xbox only just had released their first console and was looked upon as the weird new kid on the block and only got really accepted by the xbox 360 here in Belgium. That’s when I got my first xbox as well. Was skeptical towards xbox when I first saw it at a cousin’s friends house, played some Halo 1 with the weird feeling duke controller. I worked at a gaming store in 2008 when I played the 360 machine there with some regulars, getting into tony hawk matches.
Console wars were a marketing thing largely before the 360 era, but became a consumer thing during this era. Nintendo and Sega had their rivalry but it was marketing by then. Playstation never really feared Nintendo as Nintendo always does their own thing and never really bothered with what Playstation was doing, but xbox was the first real competitor for Playstation and really wanted a market share. Want to know my opinion? Why I went from Playstation to Xbox and never really looked back? 2 things: The controller and the fact that I don’t care for anime and manga. Playstation always had a lot of manga and anime releases and xbox catered to a more western audience. The controller just fit perfectly in my hands. The joysticks were put in the perfect place for my hands and it meant that I could game for hours (or for how long my adhd would let me play) and my hands would never cramp up. The xbox one launch was the laughing stock of the gaming community and even I got a whiff of the controversy with the Kinect, which I always saw as a gimmick and never as a real gaming thing. The Wii was a fun console and great for family things. It got more people that never before gamed into gaming, a hole the switch still fills with the joycons and the motion controls and the portability.
Gaming is gaming
A thing these console-war people forget is that gaming is gaming, wherever and whenever you do it. Doesn’t matter what you play. I have a fondness for indie games, as those studios have everything to gain an almost nothing to lose so they dare to make new things. The biggest innovations in gaming, as always, came from indie devs. If it hadn’t been for creative devs, we wouldn’t have iconic titles. Even the turtles hype started because 2 guys believed in their thing. Pokemon was the invention of one autistic person. Pubg and the battle royale genre would have never become a thing if that Arma Mod never became popular. I could keep reciting things. I don’t buy a playstation purely because I wouldn’t play enough games on it. I have no need for all the asian games, how great they might be. I will play the games that I want to play, when they open up to the pc market or to a medium where I can play them. Gamepass feeds my gamer heart, with the same philosophy as I started gaming, to try new things, play the unknown gem nobody else played because it was by an indie dev or straight to bargain bin thing but still awesome. Bargains in gaming are awesome because more gamers get to play awesome games. I love when more gamers get to play more games. I would love to see a world where everybody gets to game, like going to the library for just a small fee or even free, no strings attached, no predatory practices, just to enjoy the medium. We are getting closer to thing image. Now you can play with a controller and your phone or tablet, no expensive purchases needed.
I am the kind of person that will give games away when I don’t need them anymore, same with books. I could sell them. Make a buck out of it, but it’s much more fun to see another person enjoy what I also enjoyed. My ex’s nephews were saving up for a 3DS, which I owned but wasn’t using anymore. Same with my DS games. I could’ve charged them for it, but the switch was already released and I had my xbox to game on. I gave it to them. Same with my on disc games when I got my series s. Same with my pc games when my mom kicked me out and I had to move. I didn’t have a pc at the time and a friend of mine just got a pc and loved to game as well. My whole collection wasn’t wasted. I still had the memories. I still had the moments they can’t take away from me, with former friends and family.
The world has become so divisive on any front, but that’s not how it used to be in the gaming world. We only fought in game, not outside of it. You couldn’t trashtalk and when you did, it was in jest. When you became angry or ragequited, you were a bad sport and weren’t invited over to play anymore. The internet has done a good thing. It brought more people together, but it also created a barrier in gaming. Now that communication is more widespread and voice-comms are used to play and use as a tactical thing, it’s also is used by trolls or bigoted people to bash other gamers. I know I sound old with the above statements and how it used to be in gaming, but that’s just how it was. Yes, I trashtalk in gaming, but only with friends, as if we are on the same couch. I dish it out, and take it on the chin. I never do it with other people. I mute my mic in most instances, if I need a headset to hear better like in Rainbow six: siege. If you did good, I will compliment you, otherwise I do nothing (I might mumble in my own but I won’t hurt you with my opinion, as that’s just it, my opinion, I don’t know your circumstances in gaming, so I can’t fully comment so I don’t abuse you or bully you). That’s what gamers forget, the human aspect.
Gaming has become more widespread and more anti-social in the meantime. The 90’s and 00’s stereotype of the white gamer guy alone in his room really started when World of warcraft became popular, and that’s with a reason, as we were more social through gaming. As an autistic kid it’s what made me social, still makes me social as it helps me connect with fellow gamers. I hope gaming ever gets back to the point it was in the 90’s and 00’s. Just gaming without the extra fuss and toxicity.