Missing the Mystery
What happened to our sense of wonder?
I know, I know, you’ve heard it before. There’s no wonder left in the world, being so connected, focusing on Facebook and Twitter for hours a day keeps us from seeing all the beauty that’s around us every second of every day. Movies and books and music are all the same generic garbage repeated over and over again. There are no more original ideas. It’s all vomit chewed up by the masses to be vomited up again by the next generation.
Except that’s a filthy lie. There’s plenty of wonder in the world. More than ever, in fact. Our art is more ambitious, interesting, and varied. Even if 99% of everything made is shit, there’s more people making more things all the time! One percent of a 320,000 means that there are 3,200 amazing books being made each and every year. Think of all the amazing movies you’ve seen in your life, the stellar bands, and the legendary games you’ve played made from people around the world.
No. More than ever, the world is a wonderful place. The problem is us.
More specifically, with gamers.
Early last week Microsoft announced their new system, the XBOX One. Our own reactions were mixed. Even fellow Schmamer Corey Weber who was the most positive of all of us about the announcement still had plenty of reservations about the system. And I could spend a few thousand words talking about what worked, or didn’t work, and who had the right expectations, and on and on and on and on. We’ve already covered a lot of it. The point is, none of us were left inspired by the presentation. We didn’t feel any awe or wonder or joy for the next generation of gaming.
Because we’re jaded, cynical bastards.
Seriously, for a moment, stop and think about what Microsoft announced. They’re making a box, that looks like a VCR, that can- in concert with a Kinect- turn your XBOX. Turn it off. Change channels. Browse the fucking internet. Give you live updates for sports based on user loaded data, and responsiveness on a level we’ve never seen before. It has more power inside of it than all the space shuttles launched before the 1990s. Combined. By a huge margin. It can store so much data that a you could literally carry lifetimes worth of books inside of the thing. It can show you movies anytime you want them, without needing a disc or storage. It can play games with graphical fidelity that would stun anyone who saw them in 1990.
People. The future is now.
And we don’t give a shit.
We’re more worried about whether or not it will require a persistent internet connection. A valid concern, I agree, but you know what? I’ve lost the internet for a grand total of about three hours in the past year. (And of course there are those without internet themselves, which is a very valid concern and Microsoft needs to be taken to task for that.) We’re whining about the fact that we can’t have all of our older games in one place, on one system, despite all the very good reasons why it would make you less likely to buy a system and drive the cost up. We say “they don’t care about us, the core gamer” as if we’re the people who bought all their consoles and made their system dominant. We ignore amazing and functional innovations in consoles because there isn’t enough for us to do.
Folks, we’re beasts distracted by the glitter of tin.
Do you remember what it was like when the PS2 was revealed? How we collectively shit ourselves? We thought of how big a Final Fantasy game could be, or how pretty a racing game would look, how realistic our sports games could be, how responsive our shooters were going to be. We dreamed of the possibilities. Now. Now, we whine that the system isn’t pretty enough to sit on our shelves. As if that’s what matters about gaming.
Sure. We all get a bit more cynical as time goes on. That’s a given. But how many people, young and old, felt awe inspiring wonder when they saw Avatar? How many people do you know who will spend years of their lives writing about Harry Potter, dreaming of the wonderful world contained within? Yet we gamers, we sit over here and whine about Microsoft not catering to us. Why the fuck should they? All we’ve shown that we want from them is rehash, after rehash, after rehash, with social media tossed in.
There’s no wonder in the gaming industry because we squashed it. We buried it under mountains of sequels, boring gameplay, and vitriolic anger.
Microsoft’s XBOX One didn’t inspire me because I didn’t want to be inspired.