Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Digital Disquiet: How 8- and 16-bit games taught me the power of dread

(in case you missed it when I tweeted it all over the place a couple weeks ago)

"For those who grew up with them, those late 1980s/early-1990s golden-age console and PC games can represent a great many things. They can still evoke long-lost affective states, emotive chords that have never been struck by any other medium. I’m an avid reader and a part-time cinephile, but books and movies have never done to me what Castlevania and many of its 8- and 16-bit peers did. There is a special sense of dread and anticipation, a special experience of the sublime, that belongs uniquely to those games, and that will be forever captured in my earliest memories like a solution in a jar, waiting to be occasionally stirred up by a passing remark, a news story, or a train ride.

That sense of dread is unique to those particular video games, that unrepeatable phase of gaming history that lingered for a few years and then vanished into the slipstream of forward progress. Within a decade, that style of gameplay was entirely lost, crowded out by cinematics and back-story and sensationalism. I’m glad I got to live it at that receptive stage of my life, because it’s not coming back."

- from my essay, published in Berfrois on June 1, 2012


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