Friday, September 23, 2011

The New is not the enemy of The Old

I have to hand it to them, Starbreeze has balls.

I don’t mean they are brave because they producing a game in an over-saturated, spent genre, in a crowded marketplace, oh no.

I mean that they have had the gall to stand before the Internet and present a re-imagining of an Old Classic that was anything but said Old Classic in higher resolution.

Let’s find a name for this. Does “The Fallout 3 syndrome” sound good?

Look, I’m not particularly found of Starbreeze’s output; I think they were nice, engaging, smart games that were a cut above the usual FPS fare, but they didn’t shatter my world.

Now, the original Syndicate - that shattered my world. It introduced me to a new, squad-based take on the real-time strategy I knew and loved from Dune II; it introduced me to the dark, gritty concept of a futuristic, corporation-driven world; and it showed me that it was fun to be evil.

Yeah, in my innocence, I coiled in revulsion at the though of capturing innocent people and modifying them into cybernetic hitmen and women, and pumping their adrenaline levels until they were burned-out husks, ready to be replaced. This game made me feel self-conscious.

Until it didn’t, because it was just so satisfying to wreak havoc and slowly take over the world. Megalomania was setting in, and out went conscience.

Well, not completely; correct me if I’m wrong - maybe it was some other game - but I believe it was my Amiga version of Syndicate that came with a polite note in the box explaining that the dev team put a lot of effort into the game and it would be ok for me to make a backup copy but they would be very grateful if I did not undermine their efforts by distributing it.

I have strayed from the path a bit in the Playstation Era (it was just too convenient and everybody I knew was doing it), but overall, that message left an impression on me, and at that time stopped my pirating habits.

Ah, but I digress. Starbreeze, then. They are mauling one of my formative gaming experiences. I should be livid. Am I? Not really. It really does not matter, Internet.

Worst case scenario, the game is pure shit, and the Syndicate franchise falls back into obscurity. We’re back where we started, really. The original games are still there, and possibly will  eventually be released in GoG for ease of access. So, you know, you have been robbed of nothing.

(and no, you have not been robbed of “potential” for a proper remake. You are not entitled to own people’s future creative efforts just on the grounds that they might be made. get over it, Internet)
Now, let’s consider that Starbreeze, despite having lost key members on recent times, still is a developer with a track record for good games - but especially, for shooters that are focused on setting and ambiance rather than multi-player and kill-streaks; shooters focused on world-building and storytelling; shooters with some degree of experimental mechanics.

I’d say that this is a pretty decent pedigree for a game in the Syndicate universe and theme. Yeah, it would be nicer is it wasn’t in such a drawn-out genre, but lets be realistic here - that’s Starbreeze’s shtick. They probably wouldn’t be very good at real-time squad-based strategy. I’m willing to bet that said game, made by Starbreeze, would be a worse game than this will ever be.

So, am I sold on the new Syndicate? No, I’m not. But I am hopeful. I will at least wait to see some proper footage of a decent length mission before I pass on judgement.

Also, GoG, what’s taking you so long?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What games did for me: Spider's Bane

Games are awesome. I think I must point that out, emphatically, after my last post painted such a sour picture of my relationship with games.

Much has been made of “gamification” in the last year or so, and anyone even remotely interested in smugly arguing about how important video games are could do worse than reading Jane McGonigal’s “Reality is Broken”. But today is not the day I’m going to ramble on about that topic - but a ramble is coming, count on that! 

No, today I’m going to write about something much less grandiose, but still life-changing. Well, life-changing for me, at any rate. A little change. But significant! For me. 

Since being a kid, I was deathly afraid of spiders. I’m not sure if I would qualify as an arachnophobic, but sure enough, the teeniest spider would render me unable to move, petrified in abject fear. The mere hint of a spider web in my room would keep me awake at night, dreams of thousands of the little critters swarming over me in my sleep - crawling inside my mouth and ears - waiting to ambush as soon as sleep took over. 

Yeah, I was fucked up, and I have, to this day, no clue why. 

And then, Baldur’s Gate came along. I was fifteen or sixteen at the time, and still coming to terms with this CRPG thing - this was so different from the Japanese games I loved, with their spiky-haired heroes and menu-based battle systems. 

But this game, it had something special about it. There was something raw, an earthiness to it, the way the tiny computer people moved around their tiny computer world that was so much like watching a medieval diorama come to life... I was enthralled. 

And so, soon after gathering a full party and having my first skirmishes and victory against kobolds in iron mines, I found myself wandering through the Cloakwood (or was it the “Woods of Sharp Teeth”? I always forget.). And then spiders appeared. 

Mind you, these were not simple spiders, they were giant spiders! And as if it was not enough, they came with a sword spider, a lumbering beast of metallic colour whose every step was a cross between a gnashing of teeth and the scraping of swords - a beast plucked out from my worst nightmares. 

I was paralyzed. I could not even remember to press the space bar to pause the action. No, I just sat there, hearth pounding, as my directionless heroes were hopelessly exploded by the severe poking of the dreaded beasts’ legs. Yes, I had seen spiders in video games before, but they had always been quite cartoony. These were monsters to me, they were, at that time, jarringly real. 

I loaded my save, and then pondered for a long time if I should venture into the forest again. I was still trembling, but yet, the comforting thing about video games was there to help me: the fact that they rarely surprise you a second time. I knew were the spiders had attacked me; I knew how to approach and what to expect. This time, I would be ready. And so, my curiosity and compulsion to explore got the best of me and into the Cloakwood I went again. 

Turns out, the first time around I had deftly avoided a web trap. No such luck this time, and the spidery monsters made shot work of my webbed party. I was still terrified, but now annoyance was catching up to fear. 

The third time, I approached from another side, and loaded my characters up with their best ranged ammo. Two spiders went down before they even touched us, and with everyone gaining up on the sword spider, it soon went down. 

I don’t think I got so excited after any other victory in that game. It was, strangely, like a big weight had been lifted of my shoulders. I knew there were bound to be more spiders around, and that scared me somewhat, - I still edged onwards with ridiculous cation - but now it seemed manageable. 

But this was not the most meaningful event that would happen in that area. No, that was the cave. 

This cave that was covered with spider webs, and filled with spiders, tiny and giant, green and sword-like. It was more or less circular in area, if I recall correctly, and in the center, the spider-mother - not a huge spider, but a fat, bloated woman, her body taken over as breeding ground. This woman was the manifestation and victim of my worst nightmares. 

The battle was tense, and my memory of it is blurry; I don’t recall if I could beat it right as I got there, or if I needed a couple of tries, but beat it I did, and put the bloated victim out of her misery. 

It was cathartic! And the prize? A beautiful two-handed sword, my fetish at the time (all those japanese RPGs, you know?), magically enhanced for the specific purpose of killing spiders. Never up until my WoW years have I looked upon a virtual item with such glee. 

I don’t know what happened to my brain that day, but sure enough, after my afternoon of spider-killing, I was not so scared. While it would make for a great story to say that I was “cured” of my fear, the reality is far tamer. It was a first step, and the next time I saw a spider, I was able - very slowly and reluctantly- , to muster the courage to grab a shoe and squash it. 

It was a start. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Video Game Addiction - my story

Today I was going to rant a bit about how GameStop is the devil and we should all boycott it (if we disagree with its actions, of course - and I have some reasons to disagree) but someone beat me to the punch, and perhaps that is for the best.

Because I just saw the really personal, heart-to-heart (well, heart-to-web-cam, but still!) episode of Extra Credits on video game addiction, and I sobered up. Video games ARE important, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But still, we some times get too caught up on stuff, and get more bothered by things than what it’s worth.

The EC Video Game Addiction Episode is not their best, nor is it the most interesting, but it does speak about an important issue, and it takes it to heart in a very personal manner. You should really see it, regardless of how much time of your life you devote to video games.

So now, as I’m sure is the case with hundreds of others across the interwebs, I am emboldened to tell my own tale. In retrospect, it all sounds so dumb. I guess that’s the marvel of hindsight, huh?

This is my story

I’m fuzzy on the dates - that’s how cut from the real world I got - but everything started, I suppose, with World of Warcraft. What else? Now, I had always been a guy who dedicated a large amount of his leisure time to games, especially RPGs, but this was something on a whole other level. 

My best friend got me into it, we got the game on the European launch and we started playing. Of my first day of playing, I have two memories: one, of how bad I felt watching a low-level girl priest struggling and be killed by a spider on the forest of Elwynn, my paladin standing next to her impassively, as if waiting for her to die so he could get the mob. In truth I was scrambling on my keyboard trying to target the beast to save her. Some hero I was.

The second memory is the one that defined much of my later relationship with WoW - of joining with my friend and another dude, and going trough Deadmines. Early days, and it was three of us on a 5-man dungeon, one over-leveled and two under-leveled. We got stuck on the last boss and quit when the sun was rising. It was an experience like I had never had. 

That world felt real. It was rewarding to be there. It was huge, it was an adventure. In fact even today, as I look upon a map of Azeroth, I am in awe - in awe! - of how magnificent my trek from Elewynn all the way to the north was, a low-level dodging killer mobs and tagging along with high-levels in the hopes of reaching the shrine devoted to Tirion Fording in the Plaguelands.

The timing in my life was perfect - I had just switched universities for location and monetary concerns, and due to bureaucracy I had to spend two years just doing a couple of classes per week . So I had all the time I needed to devote to anything I wanted to. And I choose video games.

Falling in love in WoW

As I matured as a WoW player, I found myself being a natural leader. I gathered a cadre of friends and soon enough I had officership in a guild, and eventually de-facto leadership. That brought with it a new set of challenges and rewards, not the least of those - and I am aware of how ridiculous this all sounds now - respect and power. And, believe it or not, and as cliched it sounds, with those too things, women soon follow. 

I had more than a couple of in-game sweethearts (one of them actually that little priest I had felt bad about letting die - I still wonder how she is every now and then) and one that I particularly liked decided to go on a tour of Europe meeting guild people. 

She spent a week at my place and we fell in love. Soon we were planning to arrange for her to stay for a longer period. I knew that when she came back she wouldn’t be able to stay definitively, but she stayed for many months. Those were good times, and WoW was nearly forgotten.

I’m not going to pretend it was perfect. There where a lot of good times, great moments, but also some very harsh realities, some big problems. Good stuff happened a lot and bad stuff happened occasionally. I was not nearly as sure of myself in real life as I had been in game, I was young and lacked independence, used to college flirts and not ready to deal with a proper relationship - and she, she had her own issues and problems to deal with. But still, after living together for months, between all the great experiences and though times, we parted with the intention of getting together again, as soon as our lives would make it viable.

In the meantime, we could be together in WoW. We would manage our guild together and play with each other, lead raids and it all would be peachy. Oh yeah.

A turn for the worse

By that time, my university course was in full swing. requiring a lot more study and attention. I literally lived between my faculty and my PC. Mt grades suffered and all I could think about was going back home to take refuge in Azeroth, playing with the woman I loved, leveling our Burning Crusade characters, questing to get money for our flying mounts, while we waited for others to catch up so we could raid.

Have you ever been in a raiding guild? Mine was pretty softcore, but still, you had to put in the hours. Put in the hours to gear up, put in the hours to farm money and consumables - then as an officer, put in the hours to discuss with other officers, try to balance raiding parties so everyone could raid, settle loot and ego disputes... Raiding is serious business.

I barely saw my family during that period. I’d get home and I’d go play, I took 10-minute breaks from raiding to go scarf down dinner, and I played the rest of the night. After four to five hours I’d stay up until later to play some more with my girlfriend and guildies. 

Eventually I got more and more consumed by the game, but also more and more stressed - it felt that no matter how much or how well I played, it was never enough, and there was always a ton of things left to achieve. Additionally, as my girlfriend went into full guild-leader mode, we had more and more arguments about how to manage things. I don’0t even recall what those arguments were about. At the time, it was really easy, it seemed, for either one of us to feel insulted or wronged by the other.

Eventually, as I was soloing an old world dungeon over and over again to try to get a cool rare item, she asked me if she could join. I hesitated - I was doing it to blow off steam as much as for the item - but I realized that we had been drifting apart and that maybe I just just try to take what chances I could to spend a bit more time playing with her.

Well, long story short, she brought a mutual friend, a cool guy that really had no idea about why I was doing that, and he got that item. I was really mad, but as he really had no fault, I took it out on her. I told her, quite simply, that I hated her.

I did some pretty stupid things when I was younger. As I said before, I was used to flirts and non-serious relationships, so I has my share of fumbles with this girl. But this was the one, stupidest thing I ever did, to use such harsh words on someone - someone I loved dearly - because of an item in a video game. I’m ashamed of it to this day.

I’ve never been a greedy person, nor particularly selfish, not any more than your usual human being. But as I look back on it now, it seems obvious that the time I spent playing that game, all the emotional investment and stress, they had taken a toll on my mind, clouded my judgement and made me lose track of my priorities. 

Well, our relationship steadily degraded after that. No amount of apology or sweet talk would ever make up for that impactful moment of hurt. I think I might have cried, I don’t know. Between that burning wreck of a relationship, the stress from the game, and the stress from faculty, my memory is quite fuzzy.

Laying the Blame

Blaming World of Warcraft would be silly, of course. It’s just a game, like hundreds of others I had played up until then. I was the one that let myself go, let myself be taken by it. 

You could argue that the nature of the game builds a culture of over-playing, over-achieving and social responsibility that contributes to keep people playing beyond what is healthy, of course - but no matter how much the game facilitates and incentivizes that behaviour, it is still each person’s responsibility to know how to moderate his or her own playtime.

Yet I blamed World of Warcraft anyway. It was the only sane thing to do.

Had I blamed myself - and I truly was to blame, 100% - I would only have descended further into self-pity and seclusion, spent even more time trying to escape from the real world and into the warm embrace of Azeroth.

Instead, I embraced seething hatred from the game, the game that has made me say and do such horrible things. I could not stop could-turkey, but I found that it was progressively less and less rewarding, and less fun, to play now that I did not have my girlfriend to validate it for me, now that I didn’t have her company to enjoy.

I started walking home from faculty, and eating less junkfood on my PC. In a few months my weight had dropped quite a bit, and when i started running, it dropped dramatically. My grades when up, after nearly having failed - thanks to the help of some outstanding people from my faculty, great friends that I made quite fast once I actually started hanging out for a bit after classes, instead of rushing home to play WoW.

I started writing again - I could write about video games again, because now I had time to play other video games in addition to exercise, studying, and going out with friends - and landed some gigs at a couple of print newspapers and websites.

I found that, just like in WoW, everything in real life that I put the time and effort into, it turned to gold.

The Aftermath

It’s been several years now. I’ve graduated and I’m working at a place a love. I’ve become fit and attractive. I’ve had the opportunity to make a career in writing but I’ve chosen to practice medicine and keep writing as a freelance activity, for now. I am asked to speak in public occasionally, and enjoy enormously doing so. I have a list of things that I want to achieve as long as my arm, and I work towards them every day, I am sure that I will achieve them, and yet I still have time to play video games.

Quitting WoW was, for me, the starting point to achieve all of this. I can totally see someone being able to play it in moderation, but that person is not me. I actually tried going back to it a couple of times, but I found that, if I wasn't doing it to be the best at it, then it was not fun.

I don’t blame WoW anymore, no. Blaming WoW was, I believe, instrumental in me being able to set my life strait, but now, with a clear mind, it’s plainly obvious that it was all on me. People handle stuff in different ways, and plenty of people can play WoW without getting sucked into it, but again, that person is not me. Blaming WoW was simply, and oddly enough, what I needed to finally take responsibility for my own life.

So, well, that’s my story. Thanks for reading this far. You’re a nice person. :)

That’s all I’ve got. Again, watch Extra Credits, those guys are awesome.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Boy Who Cried Bastion

“You owe it to yourself to buy this game.” If this sounds like typical game “journalism” hyperbole, that’s because it is. Bastion is the critical darling of the day, and while I can’t really level at it the same caliber of criticism that I did at And Yet it Moves - Bastion is a fine, fine game, excellent in many respects - I still don’t think the kind of critical reception it got is entirely merited.

People love indies these days. I get it. That knowledge that the game was made by a couple of people in their parent’s basement, typing code with bloody fingers on keyboards made of sugar cubes - I get it! It speaks to our fondness for the games of old, and gamers are nothing if not nostalgic.

Hell, I do it. I buy indie RPGs - games that I am very unlikely to find the time to play in any meaningful way - solely on principle, solely to support people that I know are making those increasingly rare games of the kind I used to love and still would if I had a less busy life.

But still. People. Not every good, beautiful game from indie developers needs to be heralded like the coming of the new Messiah. No-one owes it to him/herself to buy Bastion. It’s a nice, self-contained micro action RPG / dungeoneer with some cute artwork, decent mechanics and admittedly great storytelling.

I will freely admit to not having finished it yet, but you know, even if the ending somehow magically revolutionizes video games forever, it really won’t have made all of the preceding game any more enjoyable. 

And what does it matter, you ask? Why can’t we have our hyperbole, it feels so nice and helps validate our pastime / hobbie / artform? 

Well, because it undervalues it.

Similarly to the 10 to 7 review scale most publications use, heaping praise upon praise at the indie darling of the month - or any darling of the month, for that matter - just desensitizes people. It’s like the boy who cried wolf. 

While you can argue that games are just so good these days, and so it’s expected to have an awesome game every month, I don’t buy it. Quality should be relative, not absolute, and as such as the quality of games rises so too should rise our capability to discern the very best.

You wouldn't take seriously a film critic that would cry “Best. Movie. Ever.” every month, would you? Things that you “owe it to yourself to experience” come around about once every year, if that much. Acting like giddy, excitable teenagers every time a new, interesting, cute game comes out does nothing to contribute to the maturity of our pastime.

So. Yeah. Bastion is cool. I need to get on with finishing it so I can write my thoughts on it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

From the Mojave, With Love - A Fallout: New Vegas post

Yeah, I haven’t written so much lately. There’s a reason for that. Every now and then you find a game that consumes your gaming time, and then some. For some, those are score-attack games, for others, it’s multiplayer online shooters, for others yet, it’s the warm embrace of a JRPG. For me, it’s a game with a huge, lore-filled world to explore and adventure in.

There’s a reason why I haven’t written much lately, and that reason is Fallout: New Vegas.

Before it, it was Morrowind, then it was World of Warcraft, and after it, it was Oblivion. Fallout 3 didn’t grab me quite so much, but I'd be a liar if I said I didn't spend several dozens of hours with it. As I did with some of the more linear but still somewhat open-ended Japanese RPGs.

But I feel that New Vegas reaches new heights in world-crafting. Of course, you still need to hold your suspension of disbelief and use your imagination to fill in a million gaps, but, bugs non-withstanding, everything in the world of Fallout New Vegas seems to fit in together admirably.

Well, maybe not so much, But, like I wrote above, you forgive it’s quirks. You forgive, because it’s loaded with personality. This is a far cry from DC’s wasteland, where people were living in ruins and barely seemed to care. From the onset, you get the feeling that this is a wild frontier, and that humanity is making it’s bid for it, intent on taming it.

You see people trying to plow land to make little backyard farms. You see buildings that actually look like someone tried to fix them. People seem to lead lives, rather than cowering inside ruins waiting for the player to meet them, or randomly walking about.

Not that Fallout 3 didn't try, but it felt half-hearted, while this feels like someone actually stopped to think what would life be like at this point in time after the nuclear winter. The active nature of humanity came into play in the world-building, rather than the passive role it is usually awarded in video games.

It’s the kind of thing I always found myself imagining while playing video games - the lives that people lead behind the adventure and general events of the game. Obviously, it is not feasible to have this background stuff meaningfully developed, but it doesn't need to be.

As the world is made to be compelling, so is our mind made to fill in the blanks, and so, these little hints at life beyond the main quest are fleshed out by ourselves, as opposed to being totally up to use to imagine. In fact, I suspect that, were it to be possible to create a near-perfect simulation, where every NPC had a 2000-page life-script, we would care much less. It would be boring.

For me, Fallout: New Vegas strikes this very fine balance that was more commonly achieved in games of old: that of a sharing of world authorship between the creator and the player. As the player engages in the world, and picks up those threads of personality and story and character and weaves them, somewhat unconsciously, into a more fleshed-out background, so he feels more invested in the world.

By the time it was up to me to make some major decisions about the future of the New Vegas region, I actually cared for it. I though about the choices not as paths to the ending I felt I would like to see, or advancement for my character. I thought about them in terms of the impact they would make in that world, and how I felt about that.

It may not be a huge distinction, but it is an important one. I cared because I grew to care, not because I was told I should. And that, I think, is the mark of exceptional world-building.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Limbo: what it all means

There's this conversation piece by the good folks at on different takes on Limbo. It's a nice read and it illustrates how the game mechanics and design combine to let the developer make a point about the behavior of the player.

(Some "spoilers" at the end, they will be dully signposted but really, either you're going to play the game or not, and if you are undecided, you should play it)

The interesting thing to me, however - and one of the great merits of interactive storytelling, in my opinion - is that I got a very different feeling about the theme and overall point of the game during my play-trough.

In the RPS piece, John argues that the games left-to-right, trial and error nature is subtly trying to make a point about what the player will put up with so that he can navigate from left to right, even though he has no discernible purpose for doing so.

This is an interpretation fundamentally based on game mechanics, and it paints a picture I had not considered - that of Limbo as a commentary on the player.

My own take on it was first and foremost based on the expectation brought on by the name. Limbo. You can write hundreds of pages on the theological and mythological meaning of the world, and a different cultural perspective might bring in yet another interpretation, but to me, the word evokes kind of hell, a place where lost souls wander waiting for redemption - it is a purgatory, a place between salvation and damnation.

This interpretation fits quite nicely with the game's aesthetic. Everything has a dark, edgy, menacing feeling to it, and our small character has an innocent, but ghost-like, feeling to it. 

Here the arbitrary death and trial-and-error mechanics make a lot of sense, and the mostly generous check-pointing fits in as well: where John saw a game about teasing the player, I see a game about punishment. 

The world and its masters are making the boy suffer death after death, rewinding time after each one but keeping his memory of the events intact, that he might keep suffering them over and over until he overcomes them, one step closer to redemption.

[discussion about the ending follows: consider this a spoiler alert]

And then it ends, in a final, magnificent jump that shatters the boundaries of the boy's hell. Or does it? 

After that final jump, he finds himself in a pristine meadow, no aggression in sight, in the company of a ghost-like girl, much similar to him. And then the game ends. But there's a twist...

Finally we get to understand that weird title screen, that meadow with two fly-ridden corpses. That meadow exactly like the one in the end, where the children were standing at the spots corpses now reside. The game has come full-circle, and opened a lot of possibilities for interpretation.

Was the girl the final test, after all the hellish traps, a siren to finally ensnare the boy into eternal damnation?

Was it the final redemption, after the hero's journey of the boy's soul, the reunion of two souls that were separated by a tragic death at that spot?

Or was it something altogether more cruel, a true hell for the boy's soul, a never-ending circle of finding his princess and then being taken back to the beginning, forced to forever face the same challenges for the same result, for eternity? And here we have it again - commentary on the nature of games and the player.

This is my take on Limbo - I don't think I will ever be sure about what the ending means to me - maybe that's the point, maybe it will mean different things in different stages of my life. It's ambiguous narrative will forever be subject to each individual's cultural and intellectual perception of the world.

What is your take on it?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Play and Discard Culture

We have a pathological obsession with the new.

This is true for most people in regard to most things; from here come the trends: the teen vampire trend, the fashion trends, the anti-carb diet trends... We humans like new stuff, and we have a tendency to think new is better than old.

But tech enthusiasts have a particularly severe case of the "new" disease, and among them, video game enthusiasts are probably the worst offenders. 

We are always looking to the next big thing; we play games while fantasying about the possible sequels; so much, that in fact, many games are already produced with sequels in mind. Every month, several "good" titles, titles that people have enjoyed and talked about months before release, are left discarded by the wayside, another footnote in the history of gaming.

Conversation about those games ceases one, two months after launch; interest vanishes. How many good games has a player missed, how many development lessons has a developer left unlearned, simply because that one-month-old game disappeared from the enthusiast consciousness, relegated to the back catalog of an online retailer with a 60% price cut?

Sure, most people in gaming will put their connoisseur hats for Deux Ex, Ocarina of Time, Final Fantasy VII, System Shock and another handful of high-profile classics - and even then I would argue that these pillars of our hobby are analysed and discussed far less than they should be. But this is not about those games.

Where are we talking about the otaku culture influences of No More Heroes? Why is not more virtual ink devoted to the lovely cultural awareness and intricacy of Shogun II?

Why is discussion about a title limited to a couple of months after it comes out, and - very rarely - years after the fact, when it becomes retro-chic?

I'm tired of feeling the pressure to ride the new wave, to write about the new. And this does not mean I only want to hear about retro. Rather, I want people - and gaming press - to be able to have a conversation about Assassin's Creed II. About Just Cause. About Crysis. 

A video game, in most cases, even when it's not a very good one, is a wonderful construct with a lot of moving parts, and can be a joy to explore and talk about. I recently had a great time blitzing through notoriously weak Saturn action-RPG Virtual Hydlide, because I went into it with a particular perspective, and in doing so the game provided me with an experience that went beyond the mere act of playing it.

So, what do you think it would take for more games to be relevant for a longer period of time? Why are we so fixated on the new and so dismissive about the not-so-new (until it becomes vintage)?