Monday, March 25, 2013
Monday Has Arrived! On Dead Space 2 and the Nineties
Well, nothing ready this week for posting (yet) but I'm sure I'll find a spot of time in my schedule to line stuff up. Or some good news, or something interesting!
I finished the Dead Space 2 campaign over the weekend. Yes, I'm (as usual) about two years behind on this one, but hey, got here eventually. Now I can start Dead Space 3 in earnest, hopefully sooner than 2015. For the record, it was a very good game, and I felt it lived up to the first rather well, albeit with a storyline bigger in scope and style, and slightly less of the claustrophobia that the first visit on the Ishimura generated. Isaac having a voice was a Huge Step forward for the game, and many other titles need to learn from them. I am so very, very tired of the silent protagonist, which is effectively a lazy developer's way of an easy out on creating a decent story and character for the players to relate to. Please take note, id!
My epiphany came while watching Twin Peaks (also, X-Files) on Netflix, and realizing that I know now why I am not really in sync with so much of the rest of grognardia, or the generation which idolizes the seventies and eighties. I was born in 1971, so most of my formative youth in the seventies was spent as a small kid, and the sum total of influences on my life in that period consisted of Star Wars, Alien, Superman, Star Trek, Clint Eastwood westerns and World War II movies. I didn't really hit full-titl nerdom until 1980 with the discovery of Gamma World and D&D, and even then I was still just doing stuff kids did. The eighties were heavily about "doing all this stuff" and enjoying the unique culture of gaming life from a teenager's viewpoint at that time, but the profundity of the experience really didn't slam me until 1990s, I now realize.
Most gamers who were in their teens or older in the seventies probably are the sort who find Dungeon Crawl Classics really endearing. Those who were the same age and deeply into AD&D in the 80's may feel the same way. Well, for me, that was how the nineties were. It's not the most spectacular generation, but it's the decade that impacted me the most, and there is so much from that period that I find myself utterly entranced by. Twin Peaks, X-Files, Cyberpunk 2020, Dark Conspiracy, AD&D 2nd edition, Playstation, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Runequest (I played more RQ in the nineties than any other time), and so much more, the nineties were a deeply exploratory period of my life, one in which I was master of my own destiny for a time, free of personal, professional and financial responsibilities, and ready to enjoy life as I saw fit.
The thing is, my experience to this period was distinctly my own, and the nineties were an odd decade because, as Movie Bob has aptly pointed out (he's been doing a nice nineties retrospective here), the nineties was really almost a decade of weird retrospection on the last nine decades before the new millennium.
The nineties in my head aren't even all that accurate, either. I barely played some of the decade's most popular games (Vampire, for ex.) and I didn't own a television for 90% of the decade (not getting one until I met my second wife-to-be at the time, and even then I only used it for gaming). I had a computer, but it was only for school, and in fact the only meaningful PC gaming I got in was in 1995 when I played all the Gold Box AD&D games I had accumulated but not had time to enjoy. I still remember my hazy, fever-dream whirlwind blast through Treasure of the Savage Frontier. I didn't get gaming like that in again until 1996 when I bought a Playstation and (on a lark) Resident Evil.
From 1980 to 1988 I ran a total of maybe 150-160 game sessions, albeit long and engaging, with my sister and whatever friends of hers or mine happened to be around; we lived in the middle of nowhere, so we had limited access to friends and family who would put up with our gaming habits. Conventions, publishing fanzines, play-by-mail and travel were when I got most gaming in, until I swaggered off to college and got my first consistent, large group of regular gamers in to a semester long series of gaming marathons. That paled in comparison to the nineties, when I got, from 1990 (when I married my first wife, who was also a gamer) to 1999 approximately fifteen campaigns in of AD&D 2nd edition alone....massive campaign arcs that during my college years were each timed to last a semester, and after college would go for a year or more. My first Realms of Chirak campaign was in 1992, but my first never-ending campaign started in 1996 and the last official session with those characters wrapped in 2004.
I ran so many different, interesting systems in the nineties, that AD&D only characterizes one corner of the hobby for me, however. Runequest, Dark Conspiracy, Cyberpunk 2020, Mutant Chronicles, Traveller: TNE, Megatraveller, Chill, GURPS, Call of Cthulhu, Dragonquest, Star Trek, Star Wars, and many many more all got decent levels of attention back in the day. The nineties defined my gaming spectrum for me much more so than the eighties did, even if it was as--or more-- important to me in many ways in the eighties. The eighties was all about enjoying a hobby though unusual effort; the nineties were about it being something I could do practically any time, anywhere I felt like it.
So....this is all a long and round-about way of saying, "I finally get it," as to why I'm not quite in sync with the OSR grognard-driven movement as it's currently characterized. I guess I'll need to wait another decade or two before my own nostalgic nineties comes back into proper vogue!