Have you ever seen people telling others that they’re ‘just being nostalgic’ when they reminisce about a game they played?Â Maybe you’re one of those people.Â It comes across as dismissive with a negative connotation as though the person being nostalgic can’t possibly be thinking clearly or that their memories are somehow wrong, inaccurate, or out of date for today’s way of thinking.Â Can anyone tell me why?
I see nostalgia as a good thing.Â In fact, I see it as a great thing.Â Nostalgia means longing for something past.Â More often than not, when someone pulls the nostalgia card, they are using a definition that includes the person longing for something in an idealized form.Â Why is that bad?Â Before I expect someone to answer that, I’ll tell you why I think it is a good thing so that the ball is then passed to their court.
For me, when I’m being nostalgic it’s not because I’m thinking of something that was and can not be again.Â When I speak of a game and how great it was, it’s not because I’m thinking of something that did not happen.Â I’m not longing to play a character again that I played ten years ago. I’m not longing for that guild I was in.Â When I say that DAOC was a great PvP game that handled a multi-faction war better than any other MMO it’s not because I have some dillusional state of mind.
I know that I can never experience EverQuest again.Â I know that I can never experience Star Wars Galaxies again.Â Ultima Online will never again see the light of day in its true form.Â Even World of Warcraft’s original form “Vanilla WoW” is something of the past.Â Those games are gone.Â Their spirit lives on and we can all love them for that.Â However, when someone like myself truly gets nostalgic about those games it’s because I see more than just the great game I can never have again.
It’s about gameplay.Â When I get right down to it I am talking about the design of the game.Â When I think about games of the past and I wish for games of today to adopt their enormous worlds, their level of content, their complexity, their ability to evoke an emotional response,Â and a specific mechanic it’s because those things factored into the whole. Â If one insists on telling me that this is nostalgia then I would say nostalgia is a good thing.Â If nostalgia allows me to remember good game design, remember exactly what I liked about a particular game, and then want to implement it in a newer generation then that is a great thing.Â We can and should learn from the past.
Personally, I think it’s more than nostalgia.Â MMORPG’s today are missing something – more than something – and I really long for them to get back to at least having what they did a few years ago.Â As I mentioned in my ‘We’re Working Backwards‘ entry, I think that we need to seriously reevaluate where we’re at right now.Â If we’re “moving forward” then why are the games so severely lacking compared to yesterday?Â Â I challenge this perceived forward motion as being nothing more than a more efficient way of treading water at a profitable point.
That’s a subject which I intend to explore soon.Â However, this entry is purely about nostalgia.Â If people insist on telling me and others that we’re being nostalgic then I ask them to tell us why it is bad; I’ve told you why I believe it is good.Â If nostalgia allows me recall what I know to be better, even if its my opinion, then why should that ever be used as a way to dismiss one’s argument?Â In the context that I have spoken about today, the only context of the word I know to be true in relation to “longing for the past” in games, how could this be a bad thing?