(With apologies to Captain Obvious if he feels like this is stepping on his toes. Obviously.)
It occurs to me that as originally conceived console gaming is dead. That it died years ago during the PS2/Xbox1 era, and unlike the gap between the Atari 2600 and NES, it wont be coming back.
Now, many of you choosing to read this will have to bear with me. You came into gaming as this death occurred and as it was a subtle event, its gone on largely unnoticed. It may even be better to call it an evolution than a death since in a fundamental sense its still going on. That it was replaced by something which is still using its name like if the first Homo Sapiens kept calling themselves cavemen even after bashing in the last Neanderthal’s skull. Still, I feel a sense of loss having only recently realized that its gone.
In attempt to better explain myself lets look back at the first time consoles died: the Arati 2600 era. Post a period of standalone systems – and I feel the need to write it as “systems” – based on and around pong and pong based games offering utterly amazing and incredible pong level graphics, the 2600 became the most successful development of this pong evolution if only because a smart five year old could play it.
As in turn it on/off and pull out or plug in a specific game to work the joystick and push the big red button, rather than banging the joystick on the system, the floor, at the family cat or stuffing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the game slot. Please note I did say smart five year old.
Unfortunately being something designed for a group of people I can’t name here because our culture has become to retardedly politically correct, game publishers of the age began putting more and more limiting/hurried demands on game makers for which to fuel the drugs hookers and booze orgy phase all young entertainment related industries seem to go through.
After one particularly good party everyone came out of their hangovers realizing they’d made ET, then compounded on that error by forgetting their market as they tried to make a platform which would take pong gaming to a place pong had never been before. The computer nerds making systems which required tape readers, floppy drives and came with keypads on their joysticks. Where surprised when the at the time general non-nerd public stopped providing for their rocker-like lifestyles as their Ford Pintos were repossessed and the hookers went back to the recording and movie industries where they belonged. Here Lies Gaming – R.I.P.
Now take things forward a bit and across the pond – no, the other pond – and you’ll find a – the other – recovering war torn island nation with something to prove. A former playing card company by the soon to be world household name of Leave Luck to Haven has not only made pong unrecognizable – renaming it “spites” – but created a game system that your better grade of five year old could enjoy sans complaints from PETA or a hose down. It is in effect the Atari 2600 reborn only without the fake wood paneling which was literally everywhere in the 70’s.
Dear god, don’t even get me freakin’ started!
Regardless, the point I’m trying to make and which you’ve likely missed is that at its heart the overall mechanics of console gaming were simplistic. It was plug and play in the simplest use of a term which came from PC making which is often anything but. To say console gaming was plug and forget would be more accurate. Being in a time when computer gaming was either unheard of, involved improper use of something weighing tons and filling rooms, or a cabinet often seen in bars or something called bowling alleys and required one – only one – quarter to play when one freakin’ quarter also bought you one comic book or a wealth of honest sugar laced candy.
As you’ve likely noticed, times have changed but they’ve also remained the same. Atari 2600 wasn’t the only thing around as the gaming industry crashed, but because it was the most popular yet simplest thing out at the time the industry fell because it couldn’t recreate that basic simplicity. Not until the NES. When CDs came around there were many contenders but only Sony managed to successfully find a balanced controller scheme while only requiring you to put a disc in a drive tray.
All that ended the day online became available. With that option plug and forget slowly became plug and wait, plug and update needed or plug and SOL. It became plug and you have to think before you can actually play a game. In short, it became PC gaming. Something closer to PC gaming anyway.
Hm, much like an old shaman who’s been screaming most the night about the death of the Sun as a young astrologer points out a giant superheated ball of gas coming over the horizon, I think I’ve lost my audience. Never had it to begin with. Please, go back to playing your Xboxes, Playstations and Nintendo devices for the one if not two console generations you might have them. If there isn't another industry crash and everything ends up as a smartphone app. Justforget about this sadly not short enough rant.
Starting to realize that I should have gone along the lines of Invasion of the Body Snatchers since this about something that has changed and remained the same and yet something, possibly very important, has been lost. So I changed the pic.