Gaming Nostalgia or Gaming Obsession?
If you frequent the Massively Overpowered website you frequently find comments and indeed posts by staff writers, lamenting the loss of those MMOs that have not survived the march of time. The site does on occasions write about Star Wars Galaxies and City of Heroes to name a few. They also advocate historical preservation of titles that are no longer commercially available. This sometimes segues into the thorny issue of emulators and “private servers” and often leads to debates about intellectual property versus player access and notions of the collective ownership of fandom. It’s all very interesting and the discussions are conducted in a measured and mature fashion. Today, there was a jovial post about “which dead MMO needs more coverage?”. Although it was a light-hearted question, I do have reservations regarding gaming nostalgia. Because the gaming community is not exactly known for its balanced, even-handed analysis and outlook on such subjects.
Nostalgia is fine in moderation. Fondly reflecting upon past experiences in a game that is no longer with us can be a positive thing. Prior activities such as these impact upon our perception of the present. However, I do worry about some gamers who demonstrate an inability to move on or accept that a particular game is no more. There is a distinction between sentimental attachment and fixation. We sadly live in times where an increasing number of people seem to think that if you refute a fact, deny objective reality or generally not like a specific scenario, it can be overruled or somehow corrected by a mere belief, desire or a sense of need. This patently absurd mindset seems to have bled out into all areas of life and tends not to serve any good. It exists in the gaming community and can become a flag to rally around, irrespective of any likelihood to succeed. This can then subsequently lead to toxicity, because of the impossibility of the aspirations such ideas are founded upon.
Therefore, there is always an element of risk linked with gaming nostalgia. If you want further evidence, take a look at the ever-growing litany of failed game related crowdfunding projects. These also contribute to a growing atmosphere of false hope for some gamers and bolster the erroneous notion that commercial extinction can be easily overturned by collective finance. The net result is that a percentage of gamers simply cannot countenance not getting what they want, have no concept of being told “no” and become angry when an utterly spurious fictional promise is not delivered on. Now I’m sure that more responsible gamers will argue that the overall gaming zeitgeist is being driven from the bottom upwards and that the majority are again having to accommodate the least informed and flexible demographic. To which my answer is “yes”. But it’s like that in every other walk of life, so why should gaming be any different. It’s not as if we’re a community known for its measure attitudes and nuanced emotional literacy?