The feel of gaming
January 31, 2008

I spent something like an hour tonight, locked in half-hearted debate (on both sides, I'm sure) with bluberry. He was arguing that the Xbox 360 provides varied experiences beyond what I called 'testosterone-fueled' fare, while I was of course asserting just the opposite.

The discussion ended with bluberry going to bed, pretty disgusted (I think) about having spent most of an hour in that fashion. I shared his disgust, but that's how my evenings sometimes go when I'm coding on the site and there's not much better to discuss. Toward the end of the conversation, though, things turned in a direction that got me thinking about my history with games, and just how much of it comes down to feelings.

As I told bluberry, I used to think that my distaste for Genesis games during the 16-bit era was just me being a Nintendo fanboy. Certainly, I could for the most part only own one system and that happened to be the Super Nintendo. I did buy a used Genesis after awhile, but then I sold it because I didn't find enough games that interested me. I figured my Nintendo loyalty was blindsiding me. Now I own a Genesis again and have for a few years. I've played more games on the system and I've looked into a lot of its classics. And though I can easily go back and play the right retro games for the first time and love them--no nostalgia entering the picture at all--I usually find that isn't true of old Genesis titles.

I've realized recently that it comes down to their general 'feel.' I just don't enjoy what they have going for them. Take a game like Contra: Hard Corps, which I believe may be the best in the series from an impartial sort of perspective (if one can even exist in these matters). To me? It looks completely blah. I just don't like the visual style at all and it just doesn't look like the sort of game I can really care about. Contra III? Love the visual style.

This may prompt some of you to shout "Graphics whore!" in my general direction, but I can assure you it's nothing technical. I love a beautiful new game and I love a really old retro game that by today's standards looks like crap. It's all about aesthetics, and the unique effect they have on me individually. Castlevania IV? Doesn't look good to me. Castlevania: Bloodlines? Looks pretty okay. Castlevania: Dracula X? Looks awesome! Obviously, the actual gameplay on these titles doesn't necessarily match, but those aesthetics have already spoken. Zelda III? Looks fantastic to me. Hard to imagine it looking better. Ys I & II? Doesn't look bad. Doesn't look particularly good, either. Again, it's nothing to do with gameplay. I like playing both games, but there's that aesthetic constantly in the back of my mind as I play Ys and it does impact things for me.

So basically, the color palette or the design sensibilities of Genesis third party developers... something about it meant that most Genesis games just genuinely did not appeal to me. I didn't really have any deep hatred for the system, when I look back... just indifference. It was that other system and sometimes really cool stuff like Shining Force II came along--awesome game--but then I'd forget about it for a year or so. That's how it always went.

That's repeating with the Xbox 360. I own one and I like it. There are good games sometimes. But most of them, those same games I called 'testosterone-fueled', don't appeal to me. I play something like Dead Rising and I have fun with it, but it can never truly be that game that makes me praise the Xbox 360 as a fantastic system. It's not as bad as things were for the Genesis, of course. I can name three or four Xbox 360 games I'd definitely miss if the system disappeared, and for a long time I couldn't say that about the Genesis. But still, it does feel a bit like a repeat.

And the Wii? The Wii is home to the games that I'm having fun with. It's home to the games that have that certain 'feel' for me, the sense of wonder that games provide for me when they're doing things right. No, it's not a technical thing. But the games FEEL right. I have fun playing them and I'm not being disracted by the atmosphere or some vague variable I can't even put into words. I like the Wii better than the Xbox 360. I like it better because it feels better. As vague as it is, as stupid as it sounds and as stupid as it looks when I type it as an entry in my blog, that's what it really comes down to. I guess it'll have to be good enough for me.

Most recent blog posts from Jason Venter...

EmP EmP - January 31, 2008 (04:11 AM)
I think you're over-complicating a much more simple point. That being Jason = big girl's blouse.
Felix_Arabia Felix_Arabia - January 31, 2008 (07:42 AM)
Jason, I can't believe you didn't mention the bit of convo we had on how you had needs as a gamer, and those needs needed to be satisfied. Tsk.

If you prefer a system to another one, that's fine. Your atypical tastes just are in the minority, I think, especially for your own site.

Now let's talk about Final Fantasy Tactics. It's a fantastic game.
pup pup - January 31, 2008 (07:39 PM)
And tactical.
NeutronSX NeutronSX - January 31, 2008 (09:07 PM)
'testosterone-fueled' that to me is a term that will be used more and more as the industry is headed into a more mainstream direction i feel like games are becoming shorter to appeal to people who sit down 2 1/2 hours a week to play i dont see to many single player epics these days its all about "playing together" f that god i cant wait till lost oddesey comes out as for the wii when a games is made right its truly an amazing experience but alot of there titles come off broken and gimmicky
nash nash - February 01, 2008 (12:10 AM)
f that god


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