If you’re like me, then you grew up with a Nintendo game controller glued to your palms. My grandmother and mother played games before me, and passed the pastime onto me. As a third generation gamer, I take more than a little pride in my analysis abilities. In my developmental years, I had heroes of text-heavy games that taught strong morals about doing what was right to hold my hand and teach me how not to fear the bullies who inadvertently called me a geek for liking games. These games also kept me interested in reading books and are solely responsible for teaching my younger sister how to read despite her learning disabilities.
The Golden Age of the JRPG
The first non Nintendo platform I owned was a Sony Playstation, and the first game for it was Final Fantasy VII. As you know if you’ve not been under a gaming-negating rock, Final Fantasy VII is still one of the best selling role playing games of all time. Why is that?
- The story is engaging.
- The characters are relate-able.
- The story if taken seriously, teaches you something about yourself and the world.
This was long before the days of realistic graphics and teaming up with people you don’t know to shoot other people you don’t know over the internet. The games we got from Japan, known as JRPGs (Japanese role playing games) were by far superior in both design and game play, and often contained a strong moral idea or a lesson to be taught about right and wrong.
The RPG saw its golden time during the lives of the Playstation and Playstation 2, but as we got closer and closer to new gen systems the number of games like Final Fantasy VII began to decrease and dwindle. Instead, we began to see a steady increase in games laced with a storyline, but focused primarily on multiplayer function and graphics. As games became fully voiced, it was easier for impatient kids to hammer the “next” button in order to get to the action, taking away a good deal of that storyline potential that I had so loved.
Rise of the New Gen Muscle Heads
As an aging gamer, I feel like every new game that comes out has the same muscle bound, brooding man with a five o’clock shadow as its protagonist. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I can’t help but to feel that we’ve lost a great amount of diversity in the gaming options presented to us. There are still a few games and gaming companies that cater to us good old JRPG faithful, but the offerings are few and far between (some of which will be addressed in my next article), and sometimes lackluster in quality due to low budgets.
There’s no way of telling where the tepid gaming market will go next. I’m hoping that the Final Fantasy XV may have a chance of reigniting that old spark. We can only hope.