Nostalgia is Bullsh**

This is a little bit rant-y… I apologize up front. Also, harsh language to follow.

I am so tired of being told, “You only feel that way because you liked X as a kid.” That’s bullshit. I loved Voltron as a kid… I tried watching it again as an adult and you know what? It stinks. Hell, I loved a lot of things as a kid that now I wouldn’t touch with a 10’pole. I’m also a big fan of the original Star Wars trilogy and I think the prequels blow – and no, I don’t just like Ewoks because I loved them as a kid… I love Return of the Jedi and Ewoks because they are independently awesome all on their own.

I’m just putting this out there… There are also plenty of things I didn’t discover until I was in my twenties or even my thirties that I love with as much joy and passion as anything I loved when I was 8. I discovered The Last Unicorn when I was about 10, still a Peter Beagle fan today. I didn’t discover Guy Gavriel Kay until I was well into my twenties – and I didn’t start reading him from his first book – but I devour his books the minute they hit the shelves… well, virtual shelves these days as I’ve gone digital with my library.

Another example, I don’t like The Legend of Zelda. I don’t get it. I don’t care about it one bit, but it’s this huge phenomenon that people love no matter what. Nintendo could put out a game with a random bit of poo in a green costume, put that poo on a boat and sell millions of copies – people love the franchise that much. But I would never demean someone’s joy by telling them that the game they love sucks and that they only like it because they grew up playing Zelda games. Let me be clear – I might be willing to tell them their game sucks if I really believed it (like Warhammer Fantasy 3rd Edition or the Dragon Age 2 video game). But it would have nothing to do with when they started playing or why. The “we got here first” mentality is ridiculous but the idea that I would continue to derive childish joy from something only because it brought me joy when I was a child is bullshit.

Short answer to “this rant brought to you by…” is that I made the mistake of reading something that set me off. I’m not going to link it or discuss it again and I’ll post an extra post tomorrow to make up for the fact that I ranted tonight. Just one of those poisonous discussions that involved, well, you know game X is just bad – the new stuff is so much better – it’s just, you like that because it’s what you grew up with. And the fact that sometimes that kind of thing still bothers me. It’s why I don’t read gaming forums anymore.

Ultimately, I read a lot of games from old school to modern. The two most recent games I sat down and read were Dungeon World and Adventurer Conquerer King System. I’m a big fan of Barbarians of Lemuria and just as much a fan of Moldvay D&D. I have my Atlantean Trilogy books from Bard Games on my shelf next to In Nomine and DCC. Why do I care when I started playing a game? I care that over the years that game has brought me joy. I care that I can still look at a game after 20 years and say, yeah, I’d still like to play that. Games age and games change and sometimes it’s better and sometimes it’s worse – but good games are good games. I’m gonna stop now.

I’m a bad person for letting this stuff get to me.

See you tomorrow.


9 responses

  1. “You only like X because you liked X as a kid” as an argument in my mind is tantamount to “I’ve got nothing, and am unwilling to listen to why you might like X. You’re stupid. I’m not. Therefore I win the argument!”

    Of course when cast in that light, the sophistry of a nostalgic underpinning as reasoning for someone’s joy appears far less reasonable or intellectual… but there it is.

    I too have embraced that I like what I like and don’t really care if its foolish, wrong, childish (or rooted in child-like wonder), or whatever. So consider this a solidarity comment… for whatever that’s worth.

  2. Hey, I’ll validate your love of Arcanum — it’s my choice of game now, and I didn’t even know about it back in the 80s! 🙂

    I try to remember that message boards and blog comments can *never* matter as much as what goes on around one’s own table or in one’s own reading chair.

    1. I recently checked out “Atlantis: the Second Age” game that is built on the original Arcanum. I wanted it to be an awesome update of Arcanum but it scrapped a lot of what made Arcanum so much fun and went with the system from Talislanta. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed Talislanta too, but Arcanum was different in good ways.

      1. I looked at Talislanta too, but it seemed to be much more about the world — like Tekumel, it’s a very rich and complex pre-made world, but I personally would find that stifling rather than inspiring. Cool that Sechi has made all the Talislanta stuff available legitimately for free, though.

  3. Glad I am not the only one. There is a subculture within the subculture of RPGs that is not simply explained as assholes and the rest of us. Unfortunately, that culture has assholes, rules lawyers and munchkins too.

    My own outrage towards Dragon Age 2 is based on the lies the company perpetrated in its marketing of the game as a successor to the original Game of the Year. Why would I even think they would poop out the game they did and be busting with pride about it I have no idea. Even now, after it happened, I look to the plaintive heavens with my bootless cries: Why? I would still believe them now if they were selling DA2 to me after DA:O. But I won’t be buying DA3.

    Does that mean I have a problem because I like DA:O? Should I just STFU? Am I a relic because I recognize DA2 for the wretched turd no one wants to own up to? Is pinning that responsibility on the asshole that developed it a rant? Do I really lose my street cred for having taste? Am I not Geek enough now? Is my enjoyment killing time with Age of Empires an indicator of my irrelevance to gaming….?

    You know what death is? “The darkness is death – we can speak, but we are not heard. We can scream but they turn their backs. This is the reality of the darkness. We are buried alive inside ourselves.” – Dana-Christene Umanetz And I won’t lay down and die while I am alive.

    Neither should you. More power to you!

    1. I’ll admit – even though Dragon Age 2 was a worthless game – I’m still in for Dragon Age 3 because of what I’m hearing coming from the design team. They seem to really have heard the outpouring of dislike for Dragon Age 2 and want to return the third game back to Origins-style more.

      Give me more choices, tell an important story again, and stop thinking that the value of a fully voiced character is more important than those other two things and I’ll be happy (happier). DA:O was a truly amazing game… DA2 belongs in my cat’s litterbox.

      And never apologize for having taste.

      1. Well, one year later and this is how I feel about DA3. I am watching it. I will still not pre-order it. But let’s face it, if I will buy a game as great as LA Noire is (and it is) despite the way it treated the actual people responsible for my enjoyment, then I am willing to buy a game as good as Dragon Age: Origins from the same mafia.

        Don’t confuse me with facts about how such capitalists hurt the industry by their attitude and negative behaviours towards the people who create the game I enjoy. Don’t muddy the water of my cognition with morality about how such people should not prosper or that I am as bad as they for making such capitalists rich. Just give me the damn game without DRM and I will play it, enjoy it, and keep my shame anonymous (if any cognitive dissonance can be wrung out of my hipster cynicism).

        But I do not trust them. They said DA2 would be the same game but improved. So I expected the same game but improved. I found nothing wrong with DA:O but so long as the improvements did not diminish the game (that would make it a discontinuous innovation whereas we were promised continuous innovation) I would have been happy. I do not need a same the universe story to enjoy a story. I just need to be a part of something I can believe. Exploding corpses; tell and not show; repetitive environments; spawning hordes; and lifeless NPCs milling around in patterns day and night just do not make me believe in any story.

        Then Deliverance Happened. A game based solely on the strongest elements of Role-playing being shopped around for 18-months while developers, like Bioware, laughed. The industry attitude shows itself: if there is no button mashing, it won’t work. And I said that attitude was correct because I pre-ordered DA2. I am one of the most important statistics to defeat my own argument: DA2’s Statement of cash Flows.

        Now that the ÂŁ1,106,371 net from the Deliverance Kickstarter pushed revenue from advance orders beyond its (now, in hindsight) modest ÂŁ300,000 goal (making it only $3,165,803 short of a AAA game while still 2 years from release!), the industry will react.

        That means I will be watching the DA3 Youtube Let’s Plays with a hope that it will be as good as DA:O – regardless of whatever Bioware’s news releases and marketing word-of-mouth campaigns may tout. I certainly do not expect DA3 to exceed my expectations because DA:O set that bar really high. But I won’t buy an inferior product, which is what I did with DA2 and where I feel a sense of betrayal to this day.

        Besides, Rocksteady’s Whore of the Orient is slated to come out about the same time so I won’t be sitting around without a game to play. Then Warhorse’s Deliverance will come out after that. History will show me if Bioware’s DA3 deserves to be on my shelf next to those two games in 2015.

      2. And, well, then it is only a matter of waiting about 6 months after release for the deals to start on even a DA3 worthy of DA:O And I can play LA Noire 2 and Deliverance while I wait.

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