Welcome to 2014! I was sitting down with my son playing games on new years eve when it occurred to me that many of the younger people I work with did not grow up with the same consoles I did. Yes, that might be stating the obvious, but considering they are around twenty years old, the first machine they got their hands on was a PlayStation 2. This also means that this age group may not be aware of some older characters that have not seen a franchise release in some time, such as Justin of Grandia fame (still one of my favourite games).
They may also not be aware of the history of current franchises. Take the example from Julian’s recent news post about how Resident Evil players are in their thirties and forties. When a game carries a number in its title, there is a certain expectation that knowledge of older games in the franchise may be needed, or past events referred to in the game. Of course, the game could even be a direct sequel, using data from earlier games to unlock bonuses in the latest version. How many kids today who bought Pokemon X or Y have even seen the third generation games, let alone played them?
Perhaps that is why we see so many HD versions of games from the past. After all, why spend the time and resources on developing new worlds and characters when there are some lying around that the majority of people in their twenties have never even heard of? Square Enix have been constantly re-releasing their older final fantasy games for years, and even though to some of us Final Fantasy 10 seems like a recent release, it will be almost thirteen years old by the time the HD collection is available. That is quite a long time for a game being released on a system that is only a generation older than that of the original.
Maybe the reason why yearly sports franchises do so well is because gamers know what they are getting for their money. The same can be said of both the Call of Duty and Battlefield series. No real knowledge of the older games is needed to get into the story of the current version, and once they have their hooks into gamers, it is often difficult to tempt them away with superior titles. Also, given then small range of titles available for the new generation of consoles, it is not surprising that many young gamers are turning to these awful games.
A way to bring new gamers back to older franchises would be to drop the old title, and start fresh with a new name. Some companies have tried just dropping the iteration from the title, like the fairly recent Devil May Cry, but that just leads to confusion with all the re-releases floating around. No, better to just find a new name and say ‘from the developers who bought you…’, then there is no expectation the part of the gamer. I would be quite happy if Sega released a new game that was Shining Force in all but name, and called it something goofy like Bright Light Team. Well, maybe they can think of a better name, but it gets my point across.
As a culture, we all need to do our bit to introduce kids to games that were good when we were young. For my part, I broke out my old Game Boy and let my son take a spin on Super Mario Land. That will teach him not to complain about how easy Skylanders is. With enough guidance, he should learn that the ‘dude-bro’ games should be avoided, and that classic franchises are classic for a reason.
Do you have any suggestions for what other games I should introduce my son to? What can we do to keep children away from sports games? Let me know in the comments!