Why I Play Old Games

Why The Classics Still Are Worth Playing

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A few years ago, while serving overseas, I was in a precarious situation as a gamer. I had an Xbox 360 that didn’t fit the voltage for the country that I was in, so I had to use a power converter to attempt to play games. The power converter would also freak out my system causing it to red ring after about 40 minutes of use. It would eventually work again, but only after an hour or so of chilling out. What made it even worse was that I had to use a VPN to try and connect to Xbox Live, which slowed the internet to a crawl. I was a gamer in a place where I couldn’t game. But I had my Macbook Pro.

Now I know that Mac’s aren’t meant for gaming, but I was at my wits end. If I wanted to keep gaming, I was going to have to use my Mac and probably play some older games. I didn’t have a ton of time to game, but it was a great escape and form of relaxation from the turbulent and different world around me. I had to make it work.

In my search for a game to play on my Mac, I stumbled across a game I had heard about in the past but never really had a reason to play it. A little game called Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. It was older at this point, so it would run on my Mac and was on sale on Steam. It was a perfect match! I purchased it, loaded it up, and then sank my teeth in what TRG would vote as the greatest game ever.  I was thankful that my weird living situation had put me in a position to play an older game.

Since returning from overseas, KOTOR has encouraged me to play a lot of other games that I had missed. It is important to understand why I missed so many good games growing up. I was an avid sports and shooter gamer growing up. Give me college football and Call of Duty and I was good. I never cared about the plethora of classics like Zelda, Mass Effect, Metal Gear, and Final Fantasy (and still don’t for FF).  But once I got married, my gaming style changed from multiplayer to single player games and from sports to story games. Also in joining The Reformed Gamers, I realized I had a lot to catch up on. So over the last 3 years, I have played a lot of older games and want to give a few reasons on why going back to the classics you missed is a great idea.

1. Great Stories and Experiences

We play games for stories and experiences. Even if you are a sports gamer, you play for the highs of the game winning touchdown or game winning basket. It’s a story you tell all your friends the next time you see them. It’s an experience you won’t quickly forget. It’s the same for story games. No one forgets the first time they get the Master Sword in Zelda or the crucial choices they make in games like KOTOR or Mass Effect. The story changes for each gamer and the experience is one that you cannot wait to share with your friends.

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So why let time dictate what stories you experience or share? We live in a time where the latest and greatest game is always the buzz, and for good reason. There are a lot of great games being released each week. But if you are like me, there are likely a lot of past experiences and games that you have missed. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you “have” to only play the latest and greatest. Turn back the clock, find your retro system and games, and boot up a classic or two that you never played. Experience the buzz around The Legend of Zelda or Chrono Trigger. Maybe you don’t even have go that far back. Your throwback might be a PS3 or Xbox 360 classic like Red Dead Redemption or Bioshock. These games may not be the newest, but the stories are ones you will not quickly forget.

2. Then and Now

This is both one of the blessings and curses of playing older games: graphics and gameplay. It doesn’t take one long when playing some older games to see the vast improvements that the industry has made in graphics and gameplay. Who doesn’t remember the pixelated 2D figures of the NES or SNES, or the squared fingers of the PS1 and N64. Then you think of the gameplay changes from the side scrolling 2D platformer to the now massive open world games. And who doesn’t remember the crazy shooting mechanics in 007 Goldeneye, which we all loved then and could probably not even function with now. Things have changed in many ways for the better, but that doesn’t mean the past wasn’t good.

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Playing older games helps give an appreciation for the way games were back then but also for the way games are now. It’s hard to be thankful and satisfied with the games we have now, if you never experienced the quirky and beautiful struggles of the past. I’ll never forget trying to control the camera in Mario 64 to get the perfect run at a platforming level. It was hard, but it made me a better gamer for it. Now when I play Mario Odyssey, I can appreciate all the detail and work they put into the game, and even put into the camera, because I remember how they were in the past. Going back, remembering and even playing the classics, only gives a greater appreciation of the present. 

3. Backlogs and Finances

In a group where we stress the importance of being good stewards of all things, time and money included, I cannot finish the article without at least mentioning this. If you are like me, we have all bought games with the greatest intention of getting to them sooner than later. That Steam sale was just too good or that PSN sale had just the right price that we had to bite at it. We have done this so much in our group that we have almost built up the backlog as a point of pride. While we all come from different financial backgrounds, I would challenge us from a stewardship perspective that going back to play older games that we have already purchased is a God-honoring thing.

It doesn’t mean if you buy a new game to play that you are not honoring God. You know your financial situation more than I do. But I do believe that denying the impulse to have the latest and greatest game in order to go back and play something we have already purchased can be a sign of contentment and as such, honoring to God. There are many other benefits to this also like the dropping in price of the then new game, the learning of delayed gratification and patience, and even saving yourself from a bad game every once in a while after the reviews have hit.

In the end, whether you are playing the latest and greatest hit or the golden oldie, we are blessed as gamers to have access and the ability to enjoy the leisure of video games… even the ones that are 10, 15, or 20 years old.

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