February 28, 2011

Old Time Gamer

In cleaning out a closet last week I had to pull out this cardboard box full of video game magazines from the early-to-mid 1990’s.

The box is packed to the brim with these magazines. It’s so incredibly heavy that it can barely be moved except by slowly pushing it along the floor. Lifting it would cause the bottom of the box to give out.

I didn’t really go though the contents very thoroughly but I know that there are mainly issues of Gamepro and Nintendo Power with a few assorted issues of Electronic Gaming Monthly, Die Hard Game Fan and others, covering the 18-bit era of the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis and moving towards the original Playstation and Nintendo 64.

When I was buying magazines like this regularly, I would end up spending maybe $20 a month on them. In retrospect, this was kind of foolish. That money could have added up to enough to buy more games. I guess one could justify it by using the magazine reviews to pick out which games were worth buying, but considering that most of the games I bought in those days were the big hits that were well known and guaranteed to be good, I don’t know if that excuse would hold up.

I see now that that these magazines did do for me though, and that was to introduce me to the concept of a video game culture. It was cool as a gamer back then to know things that others didn’t, to have your own language, to find out what was going on in Japan, and to be on top of what was new and what was yet to come. Buying a game magazine was like buying a ticket into that still burgeoning culture. Reading each new issue was like taking the next step into an ever expanding world. That meant a lot to me at the time.

Nowadays most gamers would get their info from the Internet, and magazines like this aren’t as important or popular as they once were. I suppose it’s just as well. When I first got the internet at home, video game sites were the first web pages I visited. And I suppose shortly after that is when I stopped buying game magazines monthly.

Even though I was cleaning out a closet, I just couldn’t see myself getting rid of this box. Too many memories. These magazines are a relic of a nearly forgotten age. I doubt they’d ever be worth any money, but as cultural artifacts they still might have some value. It’s funny to think of video games, often thought of as being the new kid on the block of technology and entertainment, having this ancient history to it, but here we are.

Seeing this box not only brings to mind how times have changed, but also how I’ve changed. Back then I just had to know about all the newest stuff, but the last time I visited a video game website to check up on the latest news was weeks ago. Despite all the advancements in technology, the game industry these days just isn’t as compelling to me now. I don’t play as much and when I do buy new games, it’s usually after the price lowers. Perhaps I pine for a return towards the games of my youth. But, when it’s all said and done, I’m just mostly going to be interested in the really good ones, just like back in the old days.



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