Reminiscing on the Misunderstood
Sometimes after I’ve played a game for a while, I will look back at places that seemed new, or concepts that I didn’t quite understand and feel nostalgia. I mean, the game has to be at least a couple hours long or something, but the mind space where everything looks and feels different brings nostalgia. These cases especially so when I think about games that I played in my childhood and teens. There were so many times when, looking back, the ideas I had were so ridiculous.
I remember playing SimCity 3000 Unlimited, and trying to build a city. My young mind absolutely did not comprehend the logistics behind good city planning. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was having a ton of fun. I mean, there were always the pre-made cities that you can purposely destroy using the disasters. I admit I did have fun with that. But I really like the moments where I was still struggling to understand not just games, but systems in general. I didn’t understand commercial and residential zones! Why were people abandoning their homes!? I built too little power plants, and now I built too many?
If I remember correctly, there was a point where a neighboring city wanted to buy the extra electricity and I was like, “Yeah, that sounds great!” I then proceeded to zone a ton of lots and they were like, “This isn’t working out.” And I was so confused and did not realize all those lots were using that supposed extra electricity I had. I mean, this is basic stuff, right? But I was still growing and understanding how things connect and work. I think this kind of slow, personal learning of systems is one of the longer, persistent barriers to newer players. However, when we’re young we have the time, and by the time we’re older we have that experience. It’s like when you start a new hobby any time after high school or college, everything feels slow and miserable because you’ve had zero experience here. It’s that beginning growth we have to get over (and trying to find time to practice because later in life time is very lacking).
Two other games where I didn’t get it yet were Age of Empires and Starcraft. Misunderstanding resources and how to manage them (I never learned until much later). In Starcraft, believing that the pylons warped in units (which they do in Starcraft II). I was going to go on more about these two other games, but I realized they’re both real time strategy games. In fact, SimCity is kind of a real time strategy game as well! Let me think of something that has had similar experiences that aren’t RTS games…
There’s a bit of that in the old point and click adventure games. I feel like these classic adventures are making a bit of a comeback, but some of the old ones have some major barriers to newcomers. I remember playing Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and I could not for the life of my young mind understand some of the logistics. I didn’t understand the systems of point and click games. I didn’t understand showing objects to NPCs, asking about information, or knowing what things look likely clickable (or to click on less obvious clickable things).
In other point and click games I didn’t understand, as Sean “Day” Plott calls it, “moon logic.” Some crazy, “unfathomable to the normal person” logic as to why that NPC needed a dog bowl. Or why, for some strange reason, that person needed bird seed, but the game somehow connects that to your objective and hey, somehow that bird seed gave you the casino coin you needed to get into the building. Every long once in a while, I do play point and click games. There are few genres I refrain from. I think people might think of them as old school. Perhaps they’re not for everyone, but I still think people should try the genre if they haven’t yet. Sometimes it makes me feel smart, especially compared to young Elise who had no idea what the world she was doing sometimes.
I suppose other genres are a lot more intuitive so this kind of misunderstanding is less of a thing, but huge RPGs like Guild Wars 2 or Genshin Impact still have that feeling. Still trying to understand how specializations for your classes worked in Guild Wars or not knowing how to manage daily resin properly in Genshin Impact. I think some people, especially in games that entice you in for daily play or mobile games, are afraid of not being efficient enough in the beginning and just going in like a train. Full force and full efficiency. But I like the feeling of going in blind and wandering around like a child, full of wonder and excitement.
I will always have that feeling of nostalgia in games because I usually go in blind. I trust the track record that I love almost every game I play and let this experience be a thing.
I’m not afraid to go in blind, because I love the sense of wonder. I feel like we have the most fun when we’re not thinking about being productive. We’re not thinking about having to know everything. I mean, according to the supposed spoilers research, people do like knowing things beforehand, so I could be totally wrong.
But that’s just the thing, I feel happy that I didn’t know what I was doing back then, or whenever I start a new game. I love the chaos and the unknown. I think it is because I enjoy that feeling of discovery that I’m okay with being bad at things (…sometimes). That isn’t to say we’re to go about making gaming difficult for ourselves or anything. I mean, obviously sometimes it doesn’t feel great in the moment, but in the end I’m grateful for all the ups and downs.
That’s life, though. Maybe all this thinking is making me be more grateful for all the life I’ve had so far: the good and the bad. I’m grateful for both. I’ll just keep learning and growing. I just didn’t know what I was doing, and, every once in a while, I can say I know now. And I’m okay with that.
Thanks for reading, I’ll see you again next time.