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Today Might Just Be the Best Time to Be Into Video Games, Ever.

Wake up and smell the coffee (or whatever beverage is appropriate in your time zone right now), today is Friday, January 14th 2022 – also known as: the best day in history to be into video games.

How come? I’m glad you asked:

  1. The quality and variety of games available to us today is staggering. From the genre (re)defining scale of games like Forza Horizon Series and RDR2 to the writing of TLOU2…and RDR2. With gaming transitioning from niche to mainstream, the funds and tech to create ever more ambitious experiences are there. And certainly there’s enough to go around. No matter how obscure your project, no matter how strange, or difficult, or seemingly “outdated” your game idea, there’s an audience out there for it. Want a better version of old-school Harvest Moon? → Stardew Valley. Want a quirky, depressing, side-scrolling, post-apocalyptic RPG that will also make you laugh super hard about the futility of life? → LISA: The Painful. Still want something else? → Baba Is You, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Outer Wilds, Untitled Goose Game.
  2. All of the above, from AAA to Indies, is more financially accessible than ever before. Game sales are outrageously good right now. Do you guys even remember how it used to be? That is: being happy because some garbage game was anything below $19 at the local store? It didn’t even have to be that good. Today, you can get the absolute BEST, the cream of the crop, for next to nothing if you’re just willing to place it on a tracker and be a little patient (and I know we’re all about that here). You might be able to buy it for a fiver on Steam or PS Store. You might just get it as part of some subscription, sometimes on day one. Or you might even get it totally for free from Epic or Sony or elsewhere. I played Uncharted 1 & 2 last year fo’ free, they just gave it away. Free. What the heck is goin’ on here?
  3. Which brings me to my next point: your game library. No, not your backlog, your la biblioteca (¿dónde está?). I still vividly remember going to Toys“R”Us with my brother and getting suckered by that blue Dodge Viper on the cover into paying $29.99+tax (also known as “everything we had”) for Test Drive 5 on PS1. I freakin’ HATED that game with a passion, but we played it to death anyway. Why? Because we had nothing else to play. Duh. On the other hand, 2022 me is playing Forza Horizon Series and Mass Effect 1. For how much? For less than it would cost me to buy a gamer mag back in 1999. And if I wanted more, there are literally thousands more amazing games I could play. For free or for next to nothing. How is this not amazing?
  4. Aside from money, games are more accessible now in other ways too. More game devs and hardware manufacturers now take various disabilities into proper consideration. From the all-too-familiar disability of sucking at games, to the more legitimate ones. And I think it’s fantastic that more people get to enjoy video games than ever before, and on their own terms. Example, I’ve always loved racing games, but for some reason I get easily disoriented in them. Hence, racing, especially in cities, always felt like me playing “against the track.” These days, with rewind and arrows, I can focus on my driving rather than memorizing routes. But should you prefer no arrows, no rewind, you can have that too!
  5. Another form of accessibility: social acceptance. Games are now more generally accepted, and therefore can be enjoyed by more people. When I was growing up you almost HAD TO be a boy, and also a “certain type” of a boy, to play games (exceptions did exist, naturally). And this goes double for a game like The Elder Scrolls. Today, my teen cousin, a popular girl into tiny dogs and other such stuff, ALSO plays Skyrim with her BFF in the evenings. How cool is that? And what about them adorable grandmas talking about how they picked up gaming during retirement? You know, the ones over on YouTube.
  6. This takes me to the next topic: YouTube. And Twitch. And other things like it. Do you have any idea how excited I was in the 90s just to see a commercial for a video game? Like seriously, that 10-15 seconds of video game content on television was an event. It was so rare. Later there were some super weak edutainment computer TV programs that sometimes featured a section on video games, some trailer-like material, or some review. I couldn’t wait for that stuff. G4 was a thing sometime later. As late as 2010, when I visited a friend in S. Korea, it blew my mind that they had a TV channel dedicated 24/7 to video games (StarCraft obviously). The fact that we now have so much amazing content for video games: editorials, guides, let’s plays, gaming history deep dives, game development documentaries, repair/mod guides, reviews, industry analysis, competitive esports. It just blows my little mind is all.
  7. Finally the retro scene: hardware and software. The fact that you can play a fan translation of a Japanese-only GBA game on a custom built GBA with a backlit screen or on a superior device altogether like Analogue Pocket is… just… crazy. Or that you can get a Japan-only Sega Saturn Game with fan translated (and fully voice acted!) story. AND then you can play it upscaled in HD on your 55” OLED with Xbox Series in dev mode. OR you can play it ON YOUR PHONE. Your phone! I rest my case guys.
  8. Oh, and also VR.
  9. Honestly, I could go on, I got a few more, but I think this is already getting out of hand.

There’s a lot of negativity surrounding video games and the video game industry these days. Some of it well deserved. I’ll be the first one to admit I tend to get too riled up by this kind of stuff. So, on occasion, it’s good to remind myself that:

TL;DR: …if my 90s kid-self saw what being a gamer is like in 2022, he would slap me silly for complaining (and then likely pass out from excitement about the future).

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