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The Home of the Cyber Shark(s)

BBBAAAAAWWWWW is the sound they make…. that's descriptive enough, right?

I have to admit, it’s been an exciting time for me. See, I grew up in the late  80’s/early 90’s, and I grew up playing video games. I blame my dad for this, of course (being a nerd seems to be an inherited trait), he’s the one who brought video games into the house, he’s the one that monitored the new ones coming out, and he was the one with the money to buy them. 

For the most part we were Nintendo people – a phrase that used to carry just as much weight as proclaiming the superiority of the 360 or the PS3; Legend of Zelda, Mario Bros, Final Fantasy, all those beloved pixels with their simple catchy melodies (and by simple I don’t mean they weren’t complex and well crafted). 

But, we were also PC gamers – a term that simply didn’t exist back then. Much like today, if you played games on the computer the general populous was confused, but oh man was it the place to be for a little girl who had a very active imagination and was just learning to read and comprehend. I think my love of writing and story telling came specifically from the computer gaming days. 

As high in regard as I hold ye olde console games, they cannot hold a candle to my beloved adventure games, games that taught me to think outside the box, games that made me engage in characters, games that were simply capable of more things than our very dear NES could ever dream (though it tried,  King’s Quest V on the NES). 

Back in the day we would gladly gather around whoever was playing a game at the time, we sat, or stood, or leaned, to watch the player try and figure out the world, the puzzles, everything. If my dad was playing, I was often on his lap. And we would spend HOURS like this, the players switching in and out, saying “try this on that” or “can you look at that thing there?” and I learned to write simple sentences “Look at tree”, “Use broom on floor”, “Take bow and arrow”. I always had an advanced reading level in school, and I don’t doubt that these games were the cause of it – of course I knew what perilous was, I had already played Perils of Rosella. I could put 2 and 2 together. 

Sarcasm? Sarcasm is practically my mother tongue: Space Quest raised me well.

I can’t think of the lessons Monkey Island taught me, a sense of humor? A love of the bizarre? Sam and Max made me appreciate the things that were twisted, but in a good way I suppose? Whatever those LucasArts lessons were, they’re there, embedded in my brain, making me laugh at the ridiculous, and figuring out the most convoluted solution to any given situation. 

They tried, oh how they tried, to keep Adventure Games relevant with the advent of cds. They lasted for a while on CDs too, until someone got the bright idea to evolve them into FMV games.

FMV games were… well, I will always say that they could be awesome. They are a genre that rarely holds up anymore, assuming a modern computer can even play them (which is tricky at best – SCUMMVM and DosBox have made many of the old adventure games compatible with modern systems, but it’s not 100%). But damn if I wasn’t impressed with them. I remember the X-Files FMV game, a game I never beat, and how cool it was that the game disks (which were like…7 or 8?) were in individual cases in a larger box, and each of those cases were shaped like a file. I felt very adult. 

But we all know that those FMV games, they were the end. Adventure games kind of died from there. Game companies weren’t interested in making them, and it seemed gamers weren’t interested in playing them: there was a new generation of gamer, gamers who grew up strictly on consoles, gamers who liked pressing buttons and killing things. This was a new era of gaming. 

And it kinda sucked. I mean, it wasn’t horrible, but for every one game I was interested in playing, there were 20 games that appealed to the people who weren’t me.

But some brilliant minds are still around – Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert, and The Two Guys from Andromeda for example – and these brilliant minds started Kickstarter campaigns to fund their own adventure games. And these games – well, not only have they been funded, but they have been FUNDED.

The Double Fine kickstarter, which neede $400,000 to be funded recieved $3,336,371. That’s 834% of their goal. 

And The Two Guys were no slouched either, they needed $500,000 and they got $539,767 – 107% of their goal.

(I suspect the disparity is that Double Fine and Tim Schafer are more well known that Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe, the 2 Guys, who were the creators of Space Quest).

And I just played a new game: Resonance by Wadjet Eye Games, it was released today (6/19/2012) and has all the graphical charm and comfort of I’d say a Monkey Island 2, or maybe even a Space Quest 5 or 6. The sprites are lovely, well detailed, and completely 2 dimensional – no pesky 3rd dimension to make you all bulgy! Yet it contains all the complexity we expect a modern game to have: compelling characters, a good plot twist, and multiple endings that actually make you think. I won’t spoil anything here, but I was quite impressed with its level of story-telling, it’s attention to detail, the voice acting, and the puzzles (while note quite as outside the box as the great ones, are still pretty good, though usually when you’re stuck it’s a case of bring everyone everywhere and try everything until something works).

TellTale has been producing an astounding number of rebooted series (I’m still waiting on King’s Quest TellTale!) that people have been buying.

And let’s not forget my console brethren, who have not only seen their favorite games rereleased on thePSN, XBLA, and VC, are also seeing an influx of games like Bastion, Braid, and Cave Story – games with all the graphical capabilities of an NES or SNES, but still very much enjoyable by today’s standards. 

What I’m saying is that right now it is a very exciting time to be a gamer my age – a gamer who grew up with the classics, because right now we are the ones earning money. We are the ones raising little nerdlings. We are the ones pushing for video games to be better than they’ve been because we know they can be! It wasn’t the teenagers that needed Bioshock. It wasn’t the children crying out for Mass Effect (though, admittedly some of us sounded like children when ME3 ended). 

It was people like me. And my peers. And every gamer older than I am. 

It’s not like we can’t enjoy a good FPS, but gives us something shiny a different and complex and unique and good, and we will cradle it in our arms, use it as a weapon against video-game nay-sayers, and completely worship the geniuses that made it. FOREVER. 

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