Opinion:  Things I’m Grateful For

Words By Greywolfe

You guys all know that I’m a curmudgeon, right?  I mean, I write mostly scathing opinions of the modern gaming industry because I think it’s in a pretty awful place.

So, allow me to tell you about some things that I’m truly grateful for.  Some of these have to do with the modern industry and some, of course, are of things from older times and places.

So, I am grateful for...

Joystiq, Massively And Wowinsider - The Sites That Reconnected Me With Gaming Fans

I used to visit these sites daily.  And I'm thankful both that they existed and both that some of them managed to carry on.  Here's to Wowinside, Massively and Joystiq :)

Gone, but not forgotten.
I avoided game communities for the longest time; they all seemed terrible.  There were no real avenues for actual conversation and most of the conversations seemed to boil down to “you suck, because of xyz.”That all changed when I started reading Joystiq. [and it’s sister sites Massively and Wowinsider.]  Sure, the community and I had our disagreements, but they were [almost] never just insult-hurling [unless we found the occasional troll ;)]

I am thankful for the fact that those sites existed and grateful that two of them now live on as separate entities not controlled by AOL.  [I am, of course, referring to MassivelyOP and Blizzardwatch.  And you should certainly go and visit them if you didn’t know about them before.  They are both worth your time.]

I am also eternally grateful that – in the wake of the AOL shut down, we – the fans – didn’t just roll over and accept that our sites were going away.  We gave those writers the money they needed to keep going, because we believed in them.

I am also very pleased that Twinstiq got born out of those deaths.  Through it, some of our community – and its spirit lives on.

DRM-Free Gaming

Diablo 3 clearly didn't teach modern publishers anything, alas.

How dare you try and play the game you bought! Shame on you!
One of the problems of the early industry was that the gaming industry itself didn’t always quite appreciate that it’s customers were loyal.  So you’d get hilarious debacles like proprietary hardware and software that only worked under certain conditions.  [One year, a friend of mine bought Autodesk’s 3D software – then called 3d Studio Max.  He was amused to find – in amongst everything else that came with the box – a dongle that you HAD TO plug into your machine in order for it to work.  No dongle?  The program would simply abort.]

There were various copy protection schemes that all lead to the same end-point:  making sure you didn’t disseminate the software to other people.

One good thing that’s come of the modern industry that I’m truly thankful for is sites like GOG and developers who consistently [and insistently] develop so that their games are DRM-free.  It will be far easier, in the future, to archive and preserve and play these games.

A [Largely Flat] Technology Peak

Games have come a long way from not needing a hard drive to run at all.  :)

King's Quest Specifications VS The Witcher 3's Minimum Requirements.
When I got into computers nearly thirty five years ago, there were a couple of big issues.  Issue number one was:  “which computer do you buy?”  Because at the time, there were several and you really had to do your homework so that you would end up taking the best machine home.  This was compounded by another problem:  if you picked up the wrong machine, well, your software library would eventually dwindle to nothing as the machine became discontinued through the advances of both competition and the march of technology.

The first computer I ever bought had no hard drive, no sound card, an amber CRT monitor, no mouse [yes, really, mice were optional back then] and just about 128 kilobytes of onboard memory.

In those days, technology zoomed by as people came up with bigger and better pieces of software.  One of the first upgrades I ever did on that machine was bump the 128 kilobytes of memory up to 640, because it turned out that most games [at the time] struggled under anything less.

I’m truly thankful that we’ve hit a sort of plateau now.  Instead of things getting more “advanced” they’re generally widening out.  That is:  Graphics cards all use a unified library like DirectX, now.  Generally, from one generation to the next, there’s no “huge leap” between older video cards and newer ones.  This makes it far easier to recommend and buy a computer.  Even console systems have evened out to about a 5 year gap between new machines.

The Internet Exists

The internet has grown in leaps and bounds and with it, so has what we can do with it.

A Map of the Internet. I remember when actually putting names on the map was still a viable proposition.
I’m not a Steam fan.  [or a Valve fan, really, since they’re responsible for Steam] but the modern internet – and it’s distribution systems – are part of the everyday gaming culture that we take for granted, now.

There are bad things that come with the internet:  Gabe’s Internet Jerkwad Theory is a part of life on the modern internet.  Day One patches could only exist as a result of the current bandwidth situation we’re in.  The minefield of issues with social media. [and for some, the resultant Fear Of Missing Out]

Certainly, all of these things are terrible – and things that we need to be vigilant of, but to my mind, and especially as gamers, there are quite a few plusses to the fact that the internet exists.  For example, it’s now possible to find people to play a game with, even if your friends are nowhere nearby – and, in fact, you can keep in touch with those friends more easily as a result, should they move.  You can buy games without having to go to a store – and a greater number of games than you ever could before, too.  [including classics that you’d struggle to find on store shelves, today.]  You are also able to find far more resources about potential purchases than you ever could, in the past [when we were basically reliant on what your friends thought and magazines.]

And I am thankful for all of these.

Sierra On-Line and LucasArts

Sierra On-Line and Lucasfilm Games/Lucasarts Games produced games that - to this day - I can still enjoy.

Side by side at long last. Kind of like it should have always been :)
Yeah, I know, they’re dead and have been gone for a long time, now and – even to this day – I miss them both dearly, but they’ve left me with a wealth of games and memories that I will cherish probably until the day I die.

While I’m not as crazy about Lucasarts [because they never felt like “a family” to me, the way Sierra did] I am grateful to all those designers that made beautiful games in the form of The Dig, Loom and Grim Fandango.

Thanks, Ken and Roberta, for believing in the medium.  [and thanks to the countless amazing developers you had at Sierra.]

And Finally

I am thankful that vehicles like Twinstiq exist so that fans and writers alike can express their enthusiasm for video games.

The Twinstiq Family. Feel free to speculate which owl you are. ;)
I am thankful that Twinstiq gives me a place to comment on the industry as well as the readers here – and the people who keep showing up to comment on my articles with insights I have never had.

You guys genuinely make me proud that my hobby is computer games.

Image Sources:
Joystiq Logo:  Wikipedia
Massively Logo:  MMOGames.com euologizes Massively
WowInsider Logo:  Engadget.com [don't click and give AOL ad views ;)] Diablo 3 DRM:  Imgur
KQ1 Specs:  Gamefaqs King's Quest I Box Shots
Witcher 3 Specs:  VGBoxArt
Internet Map:  Wikipedia
Sierra On-Line Logo:  UMBCast
LucasFilm Games Logo:  ATMachine's Lucasarts Logos, A History In Pictures
Owl Family:  Pixabay