The Generation Game: Going Full Circle

Adolescence is a key time in many gamers lives.  For many gamers, the consoles that we owned and the games we were exposed to during that period have shaped our preferences and brand loyalties in the years that have followed.  They have caused us to gravitate to certain genres and have led some to refuse to even contemplate owning a console that is released by the rival of the company that made their favourite childhood console.

I have been a PlayStation fan ever since I was 13 years old and played my older cousin’s original PlayStation for the first time.  He was older and had the money available to get it on his own volition, along with games like Tekken, Destruction Derby, Ridge Racer, and more.  After falling in love with Sony’s classic console, it wasn’t long until I was gifted one of my own, and it remained my main console throughout many of my teenage years.

The aforementioned games were only the tip of the iceberg; I was fortunate to play many of the top franchises that called the PlayStation home, including Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid and Tomb Raider.  They made such an impression on me that I find myself adding these franchises’ new releases and re-releases to my wishlist even all these years later.

I was into my late teens when the PlayStation 2 arrived. My parents “did me a solid” and picked the system up for me during the Christmas holiday season. I couldn’t have been happier and went on another huge journey with Sony. The PlayStation 2 really solidified my love affair with the brand thanks to its vast library of epic, story-driven games. The fact that it is the biggest selling console of all time speaks volumes to its popularity.

The PlayStation 2 took me into my early 20s when I finally had the financial means to buy and be exposed to more games.  And, Sony made sure that there were great games released on a regular basis for me to spend my hard-earned money on.  Games like Grand Theft Auto 3, San Andreas, Shadow of the Colossus, Final Fantasy 10, Resident Evil 4, Gran Turismo 4, Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, and so many more.

GTA 3 showing Claude in a black leather jacket shooting.

This period of time had the biggest impact of all when it comes to the games I hold dear to this day.  Each brought unique experiences and were brilliant in their own way.  Whats more, they showed me that gaming was evolving; many games were focused on providing an experience rather than being something that felt like a 30-minute adrenaline-fueled coin-op burst. A slow burn was being introduced with the huge size of some games, complemented by games that were equally as easy to pick up and play as they were to put down and come back to.

My taste during the PlayStation 3 era was very much in line with the slow burn style of game that started to blossom on the PS2.  I shied away from arcade-style titles and sought out more meaningful story-based titles. I gravitated towards titles like Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout 3, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect and as I had the time to plough countless hours into seeing them through to completion. Exploring their expansive maps kept me yearning for more and I felt a huge amount of satisfaction and sense of achievement when seeing the credits roll at the conclusion of an epic adventure.

Skyrim walking through a village.

PlayStation 4 was very much the same as I continued to be drawn towards games such as Fallout 4, Horizon Zero Dawn, Days Gone, The Witcher 3, etc.  Single-player games with lengthy stories and interesting worlds.  Games to pour my time into.  But those days may be coming to an end.

As the next generation of console approaches with the introduction of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, I find myself moving away from the story-based titles that have kept me so engrossed since the PS2 era.

As a father of a 2-year-old, time is limited. I no longer feel that picking up the latest titles with lengthy stories is in my best interests, no matter how epic they may be.  In fact, I picked up Ghost of Tsushima at launch recently and it took me 5 weeks to play for 20 hours in 30-minute sessions.  This fragmented approach just does not “cut the mustard” with these types of games.  I found myself getting frustrated and I’ll be honest, I haven’t returned to it for some time now.

I find myself, at the moment, going “full circle”. I am seeking out those arcade-style experiences that I had on the original PlayStation. I can manage 30 minutes or an hour more regularly than say a 4 or 8 hour session which I feel is needed to truly enjoy vast, lengthy, story-driven games.

Time looks like it will dictate what I play for the forseeable future. As a “grown up gamer”, I feel that the days of gorging on an 8-hour gaming session will return, but it might just be a bit further down the road.  I am still very excited for the coming generation and the titles it brings. I can be certain that with today’s gaming market as it is, there will be something for everyone regardless of which console you opt for this generation – even players like me, with reduced time to actually play the games.