I consider our stacks of Nintendo Power, EGM, Game Players, GamePro, and other old video game magazines to be as personal a treasure as my childhood Turbo Duo. Not just for the inherent nostalgia or dated (but awesome!) art, nor even the chance to remember a hidden gem of a game I haven't played in awhile. Flipping through these old slices of gaming's past also reinvigorates my passion for our industry in a way that modern sources just cannot do. Sure, part of it is my love of these older eras of gaming, although I immensely enjoy the current generation of consoles. But what I think takes me back time and again is the purity of those old video game magazines. In those magazines there is not universal praise, nor is there a lack of critique or appropriate negativity. There is a passion, even at times an adoration of the magic of video games.
When I say purity, I refer to the distilled essence of just simply video games for the sake of video games. No politics, little snark, no language I would worry about my kids reading after me, and no agenda or editorial agency other than talking about games and gaming. These were all sadly introduced into video game magazines in later years, but for the first few decades, reading a Video Games and Computer Entertainment meant you were simply engaging in the fun of the hobby.
I know I'm getting to be an old fogey, and things aren't returning to where they came. You can't go home again, so it has been said, though that was before GPS and cell phones could verbally explain that you are only two miles north of home and to turn right to reach your destination. Griping about mandatory installs and season passes and online behavior is as fruitless as waiting for my NES Batttletoads to get patched so we can finally get past the two-player glitch.
But there is something from those earlier eras that we can and should strive to protect, and that is a neutral ground. A place to connect with our love of gaming without the threat of someone pushing us to take a side on something that really doesn't have anything to do with video games proper. Where we can read, or chat, or just hang out and not be part of an agenda or movement. Can such a place exist? Well, arguably no; nothing exists in a vacuum, except outer space, which is actually quite a lot. But the effort can be made, the desire and pursuit to make as many folks as comfortable as possible around the shared goal of enjoying a pastime together.
As I write this, I am thinking of all of my previously favorite online gaming hubs. Once they were fun places to catch up on news, reviews, and the excitement of video games. Now, almost every one of those sites are overstuffed with political talk, us-versus-them rants, ideological editorials, and other material that has very tentative connections to gaming at best. If that is the direction the writers wish for their site to go, I am not one to argue. But at some point, I think there should be an honest division between a video game website and the New York Times.
We are undoubtedly all driven by ideology, be it personally identified or unknown. Our own biases come out eventually, often in our creative works. It is each author's responsibility to determine what and how every expression is created. There are many important points to be made. Some of us creative-types feel we need to get it, or at times scream it, off our chest lest we be seen as passive to an important point to be made. And I would never advocate silence to what needs spoken, even shouted.
But again, time and place is key. There are appropriate times and places for everything, and I personally get weary of the concern that my nine-year-old is going to learn a new swear word, see outright nudity, or learn to hate a political stance, because he was reading a video game article over my shoulder. It is one thing to have these conversations when asked, pursuing, or invited, and another to have it forced into everything. I'm not even referring to 'trigger' words or 'safe spaces.' These days, it is seen as an ideological statement to buy a certain cup of coffee, or shop at certain department stores, or go for a chicken sandwich at a specific chain. Every action or inaction is viewed as political, supporting one thing or denying another, whether intended or not. It is a web impossible to navigate, and no matter how much we don't want to play, it is not going away.
That is not to suggest that all video games or discussions concerning them need to be silent on such issues. Many of these discussions, when civil, are extremely important in shaping the world we live in. Like all media before it, gaming is a window into our cultural past, a mirror against our present, and a crystal ball projecting many potential futures. The inherent interactive component in video games gives it a powerful device by which to frame, understand, experience, and empathize a creative work. There are even games now made around specific political or ideological views, and many are quite good, even important! And the discussions around them are equally relevant and should be regarded as such, as long as the dialogue is open and discussions are welcoming.
Yet everyone needs respite, a place of rest. Sometimes alone, and just as important, often with others. Places to hang out, even with those you may disagree when it comes to so many other matters of life. Common ground, neutral territory.
And I'm grateful that RFGeneration has remained such a place. It is like when I reread those old video game magazines and I'm reminded of a passion. This site is and remains about video games, pure and simple. Where the greatest arguments are over Rock Band vs Guitar Hero or Super Mario Bros. 3 vs Super Mario World. And even those debates end with a shrug of the shoulders and a handshake (and perhaps later insisting to our significant others of why we are obviously right on this one.)
I repeat myself often in my articles here, in part because the world moves so fast I find I have to remind myself of what is important. And so once again, I give a hearty praise to RFGeneration, one of the few stalwart places I can still go and simply enjoy the presence of others who like video games. Where I can relax, grab a hot chocolate, and know that where we disagree, we still enjoy each other's presence at a hub welcoming all under the banner of video games. It is a simple thing in theory, to keep a website and community as originally intended, but pretty much all of us have witnessed how other places both digital and real are not what they once were.
Cheers to you, RFGeneration, for remaining true and fun. Game on!
Totally dig it. I don't really frequent any other website, primarily because people just aren't chill enough for me. Too many people are more than happy to throw down over nothing more than a misspelt word or an expressed choice of faith. Personally, I like to relax while I'm experiencing entertainment. Maybe that's too "Khan" of me (er, two dimensional), but like Tommy Chong once said, "That's what it is, man."
The current state of magazines, website, podcasts, and the like does make me sad, for the most part. I really think it is primarily down to the creators in those arenas feeling the need to be legitimized. Maybe it is as simple as wanting some sort of recognition in this veritable sea of voices they play in, or perhaps they are sick of the old "enthusiast press" moniker they once had to wear. Games are art now, so they should also be journalists, exposing controversy wherever they can (for the good of the public), right. I like my controversy kept firmly in the identification of Zelda in a specific genre (namely, Action-Adventure). Or not. I think what I'm trying to say is this cheddar cheese melt w/hamburger is delicious, especially with paprika and cayenne pepper.
I do miss the tone of all those old gaming mags, when everything seemed so new and fresh and not yet tainted by the vitriol and controversy that is so common in the industry today. Although, looking back, I have to point out that Nintendo Power was very much written in a state-run press style, which isn't surprising given the fact that Nintendo owned it. Funny the things you notice when you grow up and look back lol.
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