20 Years is long time out of gaming. Sure you play the odd one on your phone but it’s not like spending a few hours wandering around fantastic virtual landscapes and going off on a wild quest or taking down a gang filled hideout. So why did I come back to it after so long?
Well it’s fairly simple really, I thought I was past it and it turns out I was wrong. There is a feeling about video games amongst my generation that it’s just for kids, but after seeing the amount of 18+ titles out there, I can categorically state this is not true. It’s a bit of a snobbish attitude and although its one I never shared, I just didn’t have the time or the desire to go back to it, that is, until a few years ago.
The game that dragged me back was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. When I was 15 back in 1985, my console of choice was the Atari 800XL, a fairly nifty little machine. Maybe not as popular as the Commodore 64 or the Sinclair Spectrum 48K but in its own way, just as good. Games used to come out for the previous two on a regular basis but the Atari always seemed to be left out. Where the platforms tended to cross over, more often not, were Adventure Games.
These were text based games that would let you input a series commands such as “Go North, Hit Troll with Axe, Open Door etc…” and if you got the right command then you would progress further into the game. Simple in design, fiendishly clever in execution. As times wore on, Adventure games got more expansive. The list of commands got larger, the playing area got bigger and then we got graphic adventures which meant you actually got to look at a picture of the area, instead of trying to visualise it in your head.
In many ways these were the first RPG’s, as you were free to go where you liked and your actions had consequences. Then two games came along at more or less the same time. The first was “The Pawn.” An expansive open world adventure with the most intelligent command system yet. You could actually type in full sentences and it would understand, mostly. It was a great leap forward in the Adventure gaming world.
The other was a game called “Alternate Reality” which really was the first open world RPG I had come across. It even had a story. You were abducted by aliens and sucked into a parallel universe and dropped into an ancient city where you could go anywhere. There were shops, Guilds, thieves, trolls, goblins, peasants, it was a whole new world. It also opened up your imagination further but there were still limits of what you could do.
I kind of hit a brick wall at this point where games were concerned. Nothing was going to top this for me, I could spend hours walking around the city finding secret places, battling the trolls and goblins, buying newer weapons to improve my chances and amassing gold. It was my perfect game but I still wanted more.
A good friend of mine had a BBC B Computer and the game that sucked me in again was Elite. The Space exploration trading game that has recently been updated. This time I really could go anywhere and in the process have space battles. However Elite never came out for the Atari – the closest thing to this was Mercenary which I did get. But it wasn’t Elite. Instead of the entire galaxy to explore, you had a single planet with one large city and a very remote outpost. There was also a space station and a series of underground area’s closed off by different doors with different keys.
The object of the game was to find enough credit to buy the ship that would get you off the planet. But it wasn’t Elite. I think it was this point that I sort of lost my love of gaming for a while.
Fast forward several years and there was one game that was talking the world by storm and not only that, but it was free. Doom.
It wasn’t on any consoles, but bundled free with Windows 85 when computers were just becoming popular household items. Well, you know all about Doom, the first real first person shooter, the ultra violent game that had parents in a spin and one the whole world embraced. There were a few games after that that drew on the FPS idea but Doom was still the game people talked about.
That was more or less it for me. I never got that excited at the Playstation launch or Xbox a short time later. I knew of them of course, but I was growing up and had other things on my mind. That was until a few years ago.
I was watching TV when an advert for a game came on. I’d seen game adverts before, but none had really gripped my interest. It was, of course, Skyrim.
This was the game my 15 year old self had always dreamed of. With its vast open world, amazing landscapes and graphics. I had just updated my main computer to a nice shiny Windows 7 one and thought I would really like to play this game. Then I saw it for literally half the recommended price in a game shop that was closing down.
I eagerly bought it and when it finally loaded I was absolutely blown away. I could talk forever about Skyrim, I really could, but I’ll leave that for another article. Needless to say I fell back in love with gaming and as I had to use Steam to install it, I discovered a whole new set of games that I would equally enjoy. Assassins Creed, Far Cry 3, Grand Theft Auto IV and possibly one of my favourites to date, LA Noire. I was amazed at just how mature and adult these were and I no longer felt that I was trying to relive my childhood.
I picked a good time to get back into gaming as the Next Generation of Consoles were about to be launched and after a short while I decided to get one of them. I chose the Xbox One over the PS4. I wasn’t a serious gamer and I also knew that Microsoft were intending to merge their Windows Platforms into all their devices eventually. PS4 might be the superior machine by the way of specs but the XB1 for me, was what I felt suited me better.
I haven’t regretted my decision, either. I may actually get a PS4 at some stage or the new one, but for now I’ll stick with the XB1. The games I have played since, I’ve enjoyed a lot. I’m not one for getting a game the week it comes out, I prefer them to iron out the bugs and get it later. This was one of the reasons I enjoyed Assassins Creed Unity when everybody else was saying how terrible it was.
I have a large library now, many games I haven’t even touched yet. Now, with backward compatibily, this has opened up a much larger world to me, one I will delve into and be happy to share my experiences with you.
As I don’t have previous versions of many games to compare to, its all new to me and I really am discovering many of these for the first time. As an example, I played Halo for the first time this week. Yes, I’m that far behind.
So settle back and enjoy with me, I hope, my rediscovered love of gaming and why you are never too old to game, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.