The definition of nostalgia is an oxymoron. Pleasure and sadness of remembering something from the past and wishing you could experience it again. So in a sense, isn’t nostalgia a form of masochism? Think about it, sadness is a form of pain, but if one experiences pleasure simultaneously wouldn’t that mean they are getting some good out of that pain?
Let’s examine how both of those things, pleasure and sadness, can be drawn from a singular game.
Did that muster some sort of feeling in you? Maybe this particular game isn’t your cup of tea, but you have to admit it stirs feelings of by gone days. Maybe even loosened a memory of that time period but of a different game? Or perhaps even it reminded you of a time in your life when things were more innocent and simple?
These feelings, the ones that make you smile inside, they’re coming from a very powerful place. Your mind. Every time something positive happens in our lives our brains try to find an image or something physical to attatch that feeling to. What caused that wave of happiness to wash over me? What was the catalyst of that warm and fuzzy feeling? Our minds need answers. Because, unless you decided to chemically induce them, you’re brain cannot just summon those emotions at will.
So when we see something that our mind has connected to a positive memory, chemically, we relive it. It’s kind of like eating a really good meal then a few days later craving it and almost being able to taste it again. Salivating for it.
So, close your eyes and try to forget all those warm and fuzzies you may have had from watching the previous video. Let’s see if we can find something that resembles sadness.
The first manifestation of sadness that comes to my mind is never being able to play it new. To paraphrase Madonna: Like a virgin, touching those buttons for the very first time.
I remember playing that game for the first time. The feeling of wonder that swept over my young mind. The art moved me, the music rocked me, the story touched me. Now it’s all something I have memorized. I can go through the game via muscle memory now. The tunes have turned from character defining themes into songs I hum in the shower.
I still love this game. But now, there is just something missing. It’s like the meal I mentioned earlier. I went out again and ordered it, but it just wasn’t the same. Sure the same chef prepared it, all the ingredients are the same, but now it’s become predictable. I know when the seasoning will pop on my tongue, or the heat kicks in. The sense of discovery and awe is gone.
I can’t quite put my finger on how I ultimately feel about nostalgia. On the one hand playing games that bring this feeling over me can brighten a dark day and put a smile inside me as well as on my face. On the other hand, it can lead to some pretty dumb decisions.
There are plenty of games I have bought because my 6-10 year old self resurfaced inside me when I saw a screen shot or video. These games unfortunately do not hold up to my adult, and far more critical, mind. Be it for outdated controls, or the simple fact that it really wasn’t that good to begin with. I have spent more money than I care to admit on games like this.
In the end, nostalgia is something I don’t necessarily hate or love. It is something I study when it happens to me. It’s like learning from history. Nostalgia can be a valuable tool when it comes to deciding my gaming future, it’s good to remember. Sometimes we just shouldn’t relive it.
I tried to pick a game that I felt was mostly liked and fondly remember by a lot of us. On that note, what do all you geeks think of nostalgia? What are some games that get you all feelz-y? Post vids and thoughts in the comments.