The age of nostalgia

So here’s the elephant in the room: Pop culture has gone to shit. While a lot of people blindly watch whatever the big corporations churn out this month for your consumption such as another dull superhero film with explosions, pop culture references, and orchestra music with a few deleted RottenTomatoes audience reviews here or there (which then journalists shield with articles about “why it’s a good thing” afterwards, if you want to know why this is the case just look who owns them, you’re welcome). Video games have been buggy, rushed out, and generic messes all while the media acts angry when gamers don’t buy their newest games. The local rock radio station’s new songs have devolved into pop music, shitty songs about how “life fuckin sux“, and Led Zeppelin tribute bands winning the Grammy awards.

But let’s be honest. There’s a reason why a radio friendly Led Zeppelin tribute band that manages to nail the sound down to the lead singer being a Robert Plant soundalike can sell tons of records. Their music relies on nostalgia towards classic rock radio hits you can hear just 3 stations away. So while reviews will call it music for streaming service radio play, it manages to press all the right buttons. Movies will also do the same thing as well, it’s why so many movies nowadays are trying to scratch that nostalgia itch with references or why sequels and remakes have cluttered up theaters.

At the same time however, a lot of people don’t quite like the new media being churned out. The age of the internet has changed things, nowadays you don’t need to dig out old VHS tapes or vinyl records because a good portion of media has been digitized and uploaded to the internet. While this has some interesting side effects, from the ability to look up and watch banned TV episodes that floated around for years despite efforts to ban them to the Streisand Effect that companies and censors have tried to surpress via shadowbans or full on censorship, the biggest one is content discovery. You can dig on the corners of the internet and find old music by bands you’ve literally never heard of with CDs going for high prices on Discogs. You can find people suggesting books to read, games you’ve never heard of, and movies that nobody you knew watched.

The other day I was in a chat group and we brought up the Choro Q series of video games. Needless to say the chat turned into me and another guy discussing ideas on if some indie developer were to make a spiritual successor to that game series. Another good example of obscure games being found is via MAME, there are literally shittons of MAME roms of obscure arcade games that nobody’s heard of that you can play easily on your high end computer.

This of course leads to kids who were “born in the wrong generation” popping up who get endlessly mocked by some parts of the internet who screech about people who talk about how the past was better. Most of their targets tend to be kids, because after all to unfunny people online nothing is funnier than going after low hanging fruit online.

Despite the existence of cattle who buy everything new who bitch and moan about people enjoying old things on the internet, either because it’s not new or because it’s “problematic”, there are quite a few people who prefer media from the past and it’s easy to see that’s the case for a good number of people. But when content discovery exists thanks to word of mouth and file sharing, of course a lot of people who feel disenfranchised by whatever big corporations churn out are going to cling to the past.

So it says a lot when the games people are hyped for are not new games, but older games. Despite journalists and angsty Redditors whining about the fact that people don’t want new culture, sales charts and internet hype proves otherwise. When a fan made mod for a cancelled Russian Halo free to play game came out that converted it into a ghetto version of Halo 3 for the PC, it got incredibly popular before Microsoft shut down development on it a few days after it was outranking official Halo titles on Twitch. Today, Microsoft announced that the Master Chief Collection would be coming to the PC along with a 60fps version of Halo Reach. Included in the collection? Halo 3. Even though the collection pissed off lots of people with its broken launch and updates that don’t fix anything, there’s a reason people are extremely hyped for it.

People don’t trust the gaming industry at all, while indie gaming has been a bunch of talentless hack developers making crappy visual novels for itch.io. Once in a while there’s a hit though from that crowd and most of the time it’s not some hipster’s pretentious garbage visual novel about how they hate their parents but even then it falls into the nostalgia trap the music I mentioned did.

What would be nice is if some indie developer tried making something “new” that’s worth playing or even borrowing ideas from something obscure, but after joining a shitty “indie game dev” chat it was full of talentless failures trying to make visual novels that didn’t sell at all, or in some cases didn’t even get more than $200 on Kickstarter. At that point if they want money they might as well do what an old friend of mine did to get “E’s” and sell their video game collection.

Either way though, it’s a sign something is unhealthy in modern day culture, when people are trying to cling to the past. They want to relive their memories in some cases (as seen by terrible games people have nostalgia boners for), but in many cases games were honestly better. When AAA games and indie games just aren’t giving people a fun time, they’ll go for the classics. Why do you think the “born in the wrong generation” kids exist when they have no nostalgia to go from?

Jake

Jake

I'm a purple cat :V

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