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Is Playing Old Games A Waste Of Time?

When there are so many great games released every day, what is the point in playing older games?

In the ’90s when I was a kid, there were only a handful of notable releases each year. Getting one or two new titles a year was enough to keep me going until the next birthday or Christmas.

These days there is just too much choice. AAA titles release every month, sometimes several releasing in tandem, while many indie titles also carry more polish than the majority of the games that gamers were playing a decade ago.

There are too many games and too little time. That is a fact.

Despite that, it is still easy to justify going back and playing older games:

They Are Classics

We’ve all missed out on a classic or two. It could be because they came out on a console you didn’t own, or you just didn’t have the money to pick them up when everyone was raving about them.

Whether that is Half-Life, Super Mario World 3 or Chrono Trigger, it is well worth stepping back from the modern day offerings to experience the classics from yesterday. A classic is a classic for a reason.

It Gives Perspective

Sometimes gamers today take things for granted. Many games implement the same gameplay mechanics, such as the cover system, the storage and management of inventory items and choosing a 3rd person perspective over an isometric viewpoint.

But, why?

Revisiting older games gives perspective to modern gameplay mechanics. I remember the first time that I played Gears of War and felt how fluid and intuitive the shooting from cover mechanics were – I just knew that it would become a staple in future video games.

Going back to early games in a series can also give perspective to the evolution of the series. Many people complain about different aspects of Assassins Creed, for example, but going back to the earlier instalments you realise just how good the more recent instalments are. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the whole series – I love exploring worlds that actually existed long ago, especially when they are created in the detail that Ubisoft’s title has – but it is inevitable that video game series evolve over time and older titles will feel less polished.

To Experience Stories That Deserve To Be Told

There are so many incredible stories in video games that people will never get to experience and so many worlds that people will never get to visit. Going back to older games, even just a selection of the best, means that you’ll get to experience amazing stories that you’d never have known existed otherwise.

Lost Odyssey, Final Fantasy 6, Half-Life 2…there are so many incredible stories that deserve to be heard, even today.

Because A Game Is A Game

Too many gamers get caught up on dismissing games that were released before a certain point in time. That timeframe will vary – some refuse to play anything older than 10 years old, others refuse to play anything older than a year – but in doing so, they miss out on so many great games.

At the end of the day, we play video games to have fun. That means different things to different people – some like to immerse themselves in different worlds, others like to get really good at a sports title and compete online, others just like to play Solitaire to unwind at the end of the day.

Video games can be fun irrespective of their original launch date. The fact that so many older games are receiving remastered re-releases just goes to show that there is plenty of life in the back catalogue. Unfortunately, there are many incredible games that are not popular enough to justify an HD remaster, but that should not be forgotten.

Forget the year of release and check out some of history’s best games. You’ll find that they’re fun today and they’ll still be fun in 2050. Probably.

So, What Do You Think?

Will you be revisiting older games, or do you feel that there are too many great games being released every day to possibly waste time on an older title? Let us know!

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  1. I know this article is a bit older. But hey, I want to answer, anyway.

    In 2005 I got finally hooked on MMORPGs, I played Guild Wars for over 2000 hours and after that continued straight with World of Warcraft. Those games got me “delayed” on playing my single player ones and so my “pile of fun” grew steadily. And then it got worse, Steam, GoG and other platforms found their way onto my PC and with them tons of bargains and sales. So I happily bought all the games I was interested in. And I’m almost interested in every kind of genre except serious sports.

    Also today I sometimes invest some hours in a MMORPG like Elder Scrolls Online or Guild Wars 2 (I at least stopped playing the dozen other ones I like) I prefer (J)RPGs in general, so that often means at least 40 hours but in general about 100 to 120 hours and with some games even more.

    Currently I maybe have 700 or so games ranging from early 2000s to now that I still want to play … of course I don’t know when …
    They are also spread over PC, several consoles and handhelds. One of the reasons I still didn’t buy a PS4 or Switch. It’s just too many.

    • All that matters is you’re having fun.

      Yes, MMORPGs (and sports titles, racing titles, etc.) can be time-sinks, but as long as you’re enjoying yourself, you haven’t been slowed down.

      I envy your game collection, though I’m overwhelmed by my significantly smaller Steam collection as it is!

  2. I know there are those for whom old games just aren’t their thing. Or at least there seems to be a couple of camps. It’s either, they look dated compared to today’s push for ultra realism and apparently that puts them off. Or there just isn’t the time (allegedly) to play an old dated game when there are so many great new releases.

    I’m not one of them. Now don’t get me wrong, I most certainly don’t object to a game looking nice, in fact I’m a big fan of it.
    But it is not, as far as I’m concerned the important part. For me gameplay is the single most important thing when it comes to a game. I mean, is Pac-Man any less playable now than it was 38 years ago? I don’t think it is, after all they’re still churning out essentially the same game even now.

    Now, just because a game may be, let’s say 30 years old (for the record my first one was 40 years ago and yes, it was a Pong TV Game.) That in no way means that it’s no longer fun to play. Sure, some games don’t age well in either gameplay or looks. But for the most part, if a game was brilliant when it was released, it will likely stay that way ad infinitum.

    Finely crafted games with top quality gameplay are just as fun to play now as they ever were. If one can look past the aesthetics – or better yet, appreciate them. Then there are thousands of games worth playing. Super Mario 3 on the N.E.S, for instance, can still take up a big chunk of my time.

    I have kept all of the systems I have ever had. I had great/crazy parents who bought me lots of them. Yes, only child. Spoiled, but not a brat I like to say, I’ve always been very generous. I’m just as happy to fire up my: Atari 2600, NES, SNES, Mega Drive, Neo Geo or any of my other systems today as I was back then.

    (I cut that list very, very short, or it would take up an awful lot of space 😀 But look out for the articles I’ll be writing soon covering my gaming history. From the 70’s to today. Including some systems which are usually derided, yet actually do have some gaming gems if you give them a chance.) But I digress.

    Without doubt the current three systems account for the bulk of my gaming time. But when I’m programming, or doing other work, and get to a point where I’m rather stuck (happens a lot :p). I burl (Scottish; Slang – to turn) my chair around pick whichever one of the retro systems I feel like playing and enjoy some classic gems. It’s why I keep a CRT TV in my, progressively cramped, office.

    I think the retro gaming scene is expanding by the day as we oldies rediscover, or continue our passion for the classics. I’ve even seen a lot of the younger generations getting into them. Perhaps encouraged by some of the, frankly brilliant, retro styled new games that keep appearing.

    My advice, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. Try and look past the fact that sometimes it’s just a few blocks on the screen and enjoy the games for what they are.

    Man, I can waffle on something rotten when my meds kick in 😀

    • The Atari 2600JR was my first ever console 🙂 it was given me by my aunt who forgot it was my birthday and my cousin didn’t play it any more (he had a Sega I think). I had so many good times with that thing…

      As for whether old games are still worth playing, I guess that depends on the games. I think 16 Bit games and earlier have actually aged better than most 3D games – their gameplay still stands up, whereas early 3D games (and even some from within the last few years) use gameplay mechanics that have already been superceded by less-clunky, more intuitive control methods.

      I will be honest, my primary reason for playing older games is to experience their story. If they don’t have a story, I don’t return. And that makes me sad just writing it.

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Written by John Santina

I'm a 31-year-old gamer, clinging onto the gamepad despite real life responsibilities trying to pull me kicking and screaming away. I created GrownGaming to meet other adult gamers. Nice to meet you.

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