Define: Golden Years

Home Forum Retro Gaming! Define: Golden Years

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    David Gunnels

    I’m just curious what all of you guys define as the “golden years” for video games. Considering that many of us differ substantially in ages, I’m interested to see the differences.

    From what I’ve seen, the “Golden Age” itself is typically referred to as the age of arcade. It starts with Space Invaders and pretty much goes to at least the E.T. video game crash (i.e. before consoles really started taking off). But, being 27, I wasn’t at an age to really appreciate that time. Arcades in my childhood were already just a weeping shadow of their former selves: a novelty of the past. I have no real way to appreciate anything pre-NES, to be honest. Does that disqualify me from this discussion? Or do I just need to make a “Silver Age Was The Best Age” topic?


    I’d have to agree with you when it comes to defining the “Golden Age” as the early eighties, when games like Space Invaders, Pac Man, and Donkey Kong ruled the arcades and the industry was just taking shape. The industry crash certainly was a bookend to that era.

    As for not appreciating things pre-NES, I’m kind of there with you to an extent, though I do enjoy Nintendo’s early arcade releases, along with the usual suspects like Galaga, Mrs. Pac Man, and Combat on the Atari. However, I first got into gaming when we gout our NES for Christmas in 1986, so the 8-bit era is pretty much the generation I look back on the most fondly, as it really did a lot to shape me into the player I am today.

    As for best age, I’m gonna have to go with the 16-bit era. I just love the way companies were willing to experiment with new mediums and gimmicks back then to get the most out of their existing crop of hardware. That kind of ingenuity and willingness to take risks is something the industry could greatly benefit from today. It was such an incredibly exciting time to be a video game fan.


    For me, the best age was roundabout the late nineties to the early noughties. Developers had finally got a handle on how to really harness the storage space of a CD/DVD, and were leveraging it to tell some epic stories and try new things. Every year, you could be assured an amazing crop of games. Most of the great franchises that we know and love today were either created or defined in that era. Silent Hill, Deus Ex, Final Fantasy (let’s face it, 7 defined the series), Zelda (Ocarina of time), Ico, Hitman, Yakuza, Metal Gear Solid, Fallout, Half-Life, Grand Theft Auto etc etc etc.

    How many of those series since then have had increasingly disappointing entries or been stuck in development hell? How often do you see great stories come out of AAA games anymore? Big budget games are made in such a businesslike, low-risk, carefully marketed and focus-grouped way that they’re increasingly devoid of their own identity. Stories are increasingly contrived to allow for the protagonist to do a bunch of open-world activites at their own pace. Occasionally a Last of Us slips through the cracks, but for the most part, if you’re expecting a unique experience and/or a well-told story from the big releases of the day: you’ll be disappointed.

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