Nostalgia

Posted May 14, 2011

Every game I still own is either new and unplayed, or connected to a memory. They all have a representational meaning to me and reflect parts of my life that I want to hold onto. Either that or they’ve taught me something important that has informed my life. Any time I’m prompted to trade in these games for new ones I think about that and refuse. I realized at some point that the games, movies, and photos I have are inseparable from me. They are physical representations of my life, and portals into the past. They are me.

When I put in my copy of Legend of Dragoon, it’s not just a great rpg on the PlayStation, it’s 11th grade. Specifically a guy I went to school with who had serious issues of arrogance and fanboy-ism, who also played the game. When I talked to him I would see those negative traits, that I shared at the time to a lesser degree, staring back at me. Recognizing those in myself let me deal with them and become a better person. Remembering him forces me to re-examine myself and make sure I’m not veering back in that direction. It reminds me of how I’ve grown every time I look at the box.

Little Mac running in front of the New York Skyline is Little Matt sitting in his room at his Grandmothers house in front of a 13 channel antenna TV. It reminds me that the room was going into the roof, cutting a 45 degree slope along that wall. I remember my big wooden bed my Grandfather made me, with lots of drawers and shelves, the big red chest the tv sat on that held my families memories. I remember the wooden door that had a huge gap under it and creaked all the time. I remember my uncle who gave me the Nintendo and games to play. He was the best male role model I had when I was a kid, and when I think of the NES and Punch-Out!!, I think of him.

Everyone involved in this medium and everyone who loves it, is bound together as a family through these virtual experiences. We have different memories we tie them to, but the joy is the same. For some it reminds them of family and good times, for others it reminds them of the only happy moments they got as a kid, some both. We pick up a controller to play an old game with a friend and suddenly we’re 12 again. When we gather at conventions, we share stories of how games have touched our lives and made us better people. We have, as Ken Levine put it in his PAX keynote, “Found our tribe”.

The affirmation that I’m not alone and am part of this medium, fills me such joy that it’s hard to contain. This post and nostalgia in general pull me out of the dark jaded parts of making games and reinforce that every minute is worth it. Knowing that a game I make will be important in someones life, removes all doubts that I should stay in the industry. I urge everyone who loves games to keep them, and everyone who makes games to keep on going. Share them with your children as parents of the past have handed down stories of their culture and time to their children. This is the medium of our generation, and how our thoughts and memories will live on.