The Idea in a Nutshell
There a hundreds of video games out there that represent a significant piece of gaming history and many of these are still relevant and fun for even the most experienced of gamers. This group project will help us all explore the best games history has to offer while collectively sharing our experiences with each other.
Ever since I entered my twenties, I haven’t been able to spend as much time on gaming as I would like. Between my studies and my career, I have far less time to explore my growing game library, let alone all the other games I don’t have that other people rave about.
When I do play games, I tend to go back to my old favorites that I am comfortable with or genres I have always been drawn to. Lately, I have realized that in order to really enjoy what the last few decades of gaming have to offer, I will need to make an actual effort to try all the wonderful games out there that I have yet to truly explore and experience.
Much like your typical resolutions like losing weight or quitting smoking, it isn’t enough to just say you want to accomplish a goal. To actually achieve a goal, (in this case play though the best games of all time) you need to have a solid plan and stick to it. It also helps when you have one or more people to keep you accountable and on track. (Fortunately, playing high-quality video games is much more fun to most people that dieting and fighting addictions)
In order to have both an organized “game plan” and at least a few people to keep me on track, I thought a retro gaming club (similar to a book club) would be a nice solution to get me headed in the right direction and help grow the community at the same time. I tossed the idea out in the forum and everybody seemed to be up to the task.
How It Works
The main concept of this project is to have a designated game that every participant would play over a pre-determined period of time. Once everybody has spent time playing the featured game, everyone can give their thoughts on what they liked or disliked about the gameplay, how it holds up to today’s standards, and how it influenced later games. You can also share high scores and help other members with tactics you have learned. Even with well-known games, devoting some time to them again could give us a fresh perspective and help us re-discover some fun moments from our past.
The time devoted to each game may vary depending on its complexity or length. A week may be enough time to spend on simple games like Pong or Asteroids, but more complex or story-driven games like Metroid or Chrono Trigger may require a month or so for most people to fully experience.
With each featured game selection, I hope to have a post that give a bit of background information, links to helpful guide or tips, and some goals that might be worth achieving. Everyone will then be invited to jump right into the game and share their thoughts as we progress through it together.
I would also like to have a prize each month to be awarded to the member that had the best contribution to the conversation that month. (We will see how things go before laying down any specifics.) This should help give people incentive to stay involved and share their experience and knowledge with others in the club (and maybe add a bit of competition)
Additional Goals of the Project
In addition to the overall objective of playing all the best games history has to offer, one of my main goals with this project is to overcome “emulator syndrome”. I’m particularly vulnerable to this disorder in which having so many games at my fingertips via emulators and ROMs, I often will boot up a game and play it for three minutes before loading up the next game.
To overcome this nasty habit, I think it will really help to have all of us playing the game for an established span of time and have some objectives to reach. We might not be able to play each game to completion, but it will be refreshing for people like me to actually spend some quality time with a new-to-me game.
I also think this classic gaming club could not only help round out our gaming experience and teach us some history lessons, but it could also help our community grow closer together. It could also be a great time to invite your not-so-classically-minded friends to join in on the journey and begin to appreciate games of years gone by.
History vs. Variety
One of the biggest challenges of this project is to not make this feel like a chore. The primary goal is to have fun, so it will probably be in our best interest to take our time and give feedback on where everyone would like to see the project progress. While we may have a timeline of games established, I intend to have everything be flexible as long as we stay together as a group.
I originally thought it would be interesting to follow the progression of a certain genre in order to obverse innovation throughout history, but that may turn off people that don’t like that genre, and of course, variety is the spice of life. We may try to occasionally group some similar games together in order to see some transitions, but our goal with be to avoid redundancy.
One might also argue that it would be fascinating to start with the pioneering games and gradually progress through the most important games chronologically. However, given how much time is involved with experiencing most games, we would be stuck in the 80’s for quite a long time. Instead, I think the best approach could be to do multiple passes through history, spending a brief time in each era before repeating the cycle.
I think it might actually be cool to start with Pong and then Asteroids or something — like actually spend a good amount of time playing the originals. For instance, you could have a Pong tournament with your friends or significant other or share you high scores on Asteroids – that type of thing. On older games like that, it might also be cool to have a brief list of modern remakes that are worth trying afterwards and see how they are better or worse than the originals.
As much as I love the Dreamcast and some of the newer machines that could be considered “retro” at this point, I want to try to keep the newer, 3D games to a minimum for the first few cycles. (Due to my absolute love of the game, we might have to make Jet Set Radio our first Dreamcast pick despite the number of times I’ve already played it).
If you would like to see a deeper discussion on balancing a chronological experience with variety, check out this forum thread.
How & When Do We Start?
First of all, if you are interested in joining in on the fun, you will need to sign up on the racketboy.com forum. (Don’t worry, I won’t spam or give out your info) I will be closing down the comments section of each game selection post so we can have all of our discussion in the forum, which is much more useful due to quoting, image capabilities, and such.
I hope to get things started with an “easy” classic in a couple of weeks before jumping into something a bit more involved. We can discuss further details of what games are in store in the forums and I will make a post on the front page when it is time for a new game.
To keep up to date on the project, be sure to either subscribe to the site’s RSS feed or sign up for email updates. You can also follow my Twitter feed if you would like. I will try to post upcoming games on Twitter in addition to my short thoughts on the current game and my normal everyday babbling.
Are You In?
I’d love to hear your feedback on this idea, so let me know if you are interested in participating and if you have any thoughts or ideas on how to improve the concepts I’ve already shared. Also, if you have any questions about how this will work out, please use the comments section below.
Special thanks to Iconfactory for the icons used in the header graphic