Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nostalgia: Do You Experience It? Also, A Hypothetical Situation.

Nostalgia: Do You Experience It? Also, A Hypothetical Situation.

Many gamers experience a phenomenon referred to as nostalgia. What this is, for those who do not know, is a feeling of longing for the past that is fraught with (often times) bittersweet sentimentality. Specifically, in reference to video games, nostalgia is a longing for a time in which certain video games systems, and certain video games, were current. The gamer was younger, and they were experiencing beloved games from what is now their past as brand new, cutting edge, and exciting. An example of this is someone remembering their  birthday in 1991, a day during which they received a Sega Genesis console with two games and they spent 10 hours that day playing those games with their brother, and hours more every day of the week for years afterwards. They remember this and they long for those days. They wish they could go back to them, and they feel like nothing these days reaches that level of emotional impact and/or just plain fun.

So, do you ever experience this? And if so, how often and about what?

Also, if you could go back in time to experience the moment(s) in question all over again, would you? Note: there is one significant caveat: you must remain there and relive your life from that point forward all over again.

I suspect that I experience nostalgia more often that perhaps what would be considered average and I quite often wish that I could relive those moments. I am nostalgic for differing times in video game history/my childhood/adolescence but I'd say overall it's mostly concentrated in 2 areas:

The 8 bit era and the last  video game generation (Xbox/PS2/GCN/DC).

The 8 bit era because my brother and I were very young, we were new to video games (a medium that itself was fairly new) and we were having a tremendous amount of fun. It was a combination of novelty and innocence and I loved it. It was also tremendously valuable to me because my life at most other times was pretty bad. I was bullied both at home and at school, which meant that I spent a lot of time mired in fear and sadness. Video games were an escape for me, and playing them with my brother was doubly important to me because not only was I able to escape, I was able to have fun with another person and experience things that I was missing out on at school.

One kickass specific memory was walking into a store and seeing Super Mario Bros. 3 on the shelf. We had No idea that SMB3, a sequel to arguably the greatest video game ever up to that point in time existed (imagine that happening in today's information saturated world) existed and I distinctly recall us doing the childhood version of a "HOLY FUCKING SHIT!" moment (we squealed like teenage girls around Dustin Bieber while dancing around and then we begged our parents for it). Our parents were nice enough to buy it for us, and we spent MONTHS playing that game. I'm talking hours a day, several days a week, for months on end.

The Ninja Gaiden series provided a ton more memories, many of which were extreme anger followed by total elation (lol). Those games were HARD, and they were also AWESOME. So much about them was novel and awe inspiring. They also induced extreme rage!

Most of the nostalgia with respect to the last video game generation centers around, as I am know it does for a LOT of you,  Halo: Combat Evolved and then later, Halo 2. However, unlike most of you who share this nostalgia, this feeling is eclipsed by the nostalgia I feel for the hours, nights, days, weeks, months and even years spent playing Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3 with my brother and some friends in multiplayer.

Fable also enthralled me for the better part of a year. Absolutely incredible game and sparked my interest in RPG's (even though it's more of an RPG-lite, so to speak). The world of Albion sucked me in so significantly that when I wasn't playing a part of me felt as though I were away from home and needed to get back. I remember playing Fable and having an "ah-ha!" moment where, after around 10 hours or so, a game that I was sort of enjoying but wasn't exactly enthralled by and was having a hard time "getting" so to speak, just....clicked. It came together and I suddenly felt like I understood what RPG's were about (at least partly), why people seemed to enjoy them to such a large degree, and what/how much I had been missing for the least decade and a half or so. The music, the design of the (somewhat) open world, the visuals, the freedom (again, limited but at that time it seemed nearly limitless), the combat, the questing, being able to have some measure of control over all of it. It was like I had an epiphany, and a new RPG fan was born.

The king of nostalgia inducing memories from last gen, however, is Ninja Gaiden/Ninja Gaiden Black.

I've mentioned this a trillion times in passing and discussed it at length a million times, so I'll move on after saying only that Ninja Gaiden blew my mind in 2004 (I must have spent 50 hours playing the OXM demo alone in the 3 weeks or so leading up to the full game's release) and then Ninja Gaiden Black released in 2005 and took  my already ridiculous love for all things Ninja Gaiden and brought it to perhaps clinically significant levels of psychological obsession. I still play it to this day.

So, now, the hypothetical situation proposed by yours truly:

Would I go back in time to relive these moments knowing that I would have to relive  a significant portion of my life all over again? I am not sure. Would I retain memories of what would end up being my future? If so, then no, because I would be haunted by them, and feel tremendous guilt. If these memories (which would end up being prophetic visions more so than memories) would be erased, then quite possibly, yes, I'd do it. In addition to reliving the good times, there are a LOT of terrible times that I would attempt to change for the better, although if I was not equipped with my current memories, I suspect that I probably would not be equipped with the same "wisdom" and so I might end up having to experience all of the terrible stuff over again- NOT something I'd want.

I guess my answer depends on certain particulars about which I am unsure, which means I'd be going into this unsure as to what exactly I would be getting into. This makes it a scary proposition and the more I think about it the more I guess I'd probably lean towards telling the genie to either divulge more information about how this stuff works or go fuck himself :P

Hmmm....I wonder if I could go back early enough and, either with or without being aware of it, do things differently (diet?) not develop Crohn's disease. THAT would be AWESOME.

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