The Aural Factor

Remeber a time before voice acting in games? When you never had to hear anyone pronounce all the weird, made up names for characters and locations and animals and junk, and you just assumed that they were pronounced a certain way? Like Chocobo. In most respects, a pretty stupid name for a big yellow ostrich type thing. Up until the mid-ninties, there really was no standard pronounciation. With the advent of in-game voice acting however, the developers basically sat down and said, once and for all, that this is how you say Chocobo, and we were all forced to abandon whatever pronounciation we had become accustomed to. Weird right? Like we had been wrong all along with out knowing it, or like someone had just retroactively decided we were wrong and their arbitrarily chosen pronounciation was right. 
 
This seems to expose a common thread in modern gaming. The standardization of the experiance. Once, games used to be a bit more personal, a bit more abstract, a bit more open for interpretation. These days, everybody experiances the same thing in the same way, and that's that. I'm not saying that it's a bad thing necessarily, just a weird sort of evolution that occurred without anyone really noticing. At least, I didn't notice.    

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Slip-Sliding Away

Somehow, my new roommates claim that they've never played Super Mario 64 before. This I found hard enough to believe, but ever stranger, they seemed impressed that I actually knew where the Castle Secret Stars were, or how to unlock the winged cap. I mean, I don't like to downplay my own gaming prowess, but I suck at that game (by most standards anyway).

Now, I'm not being judgemental here, but I though everybody my age played this game to death already in grade school. The fact that these guys find it so enthralling is both disturbing (as I wonder just how that might have spent their respective childhoods), and humbling, as they seem to get so much enjoyment out of what we now consider to be an extreamly out-dated game.

I guess it just made me realize that the best games, the ones that really stick with us, are timeless. They transcend graphics, and hardware inprovments, and shine just as brightly in the present as they did when we were young.

Or something.

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