Nostalgia and gaming

We always remember things better than they were. I don’t want to get political here, but the slogan, “make America great again”, turns my stomach. Stay with me, this is not a political post, you do you. I will always remember the 90’s as the best time to be alive. I was 6 in 1990, and 16 when the dreaded Y2K hit us. But we forget about the Clinton scandal, Anita Hill,(The crap this woman went through, she's a hero) the LA riots and so on. We remember the 90’s so fondly because it was before 9/11, the day everything changed. Most of these things I missed because they did not matter to my childhood brain. Even adults during this time, forget about it because we want to remember the good times, not the bad times. Going back doesn’t help us move forward. We can look to the past to see what not to do, but we can never go back.


What does this have to do with gaming, photography, and nerds? Everything.


I am going to use World of Warcraft (WoW) as an example because it is the most recent discussion on people wanting to make gaming great again by playing classic (vanilla) WoW. I know I’m late to the party, but I had to do research before I started spouting ideas as facts. Most of my information came in from listening to a podcast about Nostalgia.  As well as the listener mail from John Hodgman at about 78 minutes into the LSD podcast. I highly recommend listening to both because they talk about the pros and cons in a much deeper way than I'm going to get into.

I grew up alongside the rise of computer and console gaming. I consider myself a part of the Oregon Trail generation. Playing games like king's Quest, Monkey Island, Pong, Mario, Zelda, Oregon Trail, and so on. All great games of their time, but have you tried playing games in DOS now? It’s terrible. Nintendo is trying to ride the nostalgia wave by releasing a mini version of it’s original NES system. They are playing into the 90’s kids desires to go back. You can go back to these games as they are not living games like online games, but you never play long. New technology is better, and you don’t want to go back for more than a few moments for the warm fuzzies you get.


World of Warcraft was released November 2004. It may not have been the first Massive multiplayer online game (MMO). But it has been the biggest, most steady on the market. Many people, including myself, have looked for a WoW killer, but that hasn’t happened. People keep coming back. It’s a massive community with dedicated websites with paid staff to give the players the best experience possible. The lore has 20 plus years, and many people behind it. It is one of the riches worlds I have ever been a part of. And for some reason, people believe the game was better back in vanilla. They keep looking back instead of forward, which can be a major issue. Warcraft is a living breathing game like we are. We can not go back to our childhood and relive it. We can not even go back to 10 minutes ago. Just like we can not relive our past, we should not relive a game that moved forward.


When WoW first came out, our generation was fresh out of high school, in college, with their whole lives ahead of them. They had freedom. So I believe a lot of the people who were/are playing these vanilla servers, are around the age of 30. Looking back to vanilla servers is a way for them to relive the happy times before they had major responsibilities. I don’t remember classic WoW all that much. It was my first major MMO, and I was rather lost. I never felt anyone was helpful. I also had a lot of issue in my personal life that made WoW more work. I didn’t like classic WoW, but my feelings do not negate other people’s feelings. 


For me, that was when Wrath of the Lich King came out. It was when I had finally put my life together, met my now husband, got him to play the game with me. I had a great guild who I am still friends with. The story was epic, my life was amazing. I would love to go back to those times. But if I keep thinking Lich King was the only best time, then I miss out on new experiences and potential new Friends. I can’t go back to talent trees, but I can go back to the story. I can relive it over and over. The game mechanics are irrelevant at this point. Blizzard moved on, and so should you.

In photography, it's the same thing. There are people worried, I included, that phone cameras are ruining photography. There are so many blogs and videos out there explaining how it is not. Film photography is no better than digital. It comes down to how you want to photograph. The feelings you are trying to invoke. The family you are trying to capture. The story you are telling. How you get there is irrelevant. There will always be a need for photographers.

There is nothing wrong with looking back. It truly gives us warm fuzzy feelings. The issue comes down to saying the here and now and the future are terrible places, and going back is the only way to go. But I don't want to go back to the times of woman only being able to be homemakers. To DOS gaming, only film photography, to nerds being beat up. I want to keep moving forward.

Look to the past, but don't long for it.

Aza