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Are Games Still Relevant?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on February 21, 2005   |   Episode 47 (Show Archive)  


Video games might not be going anywhere, but that doesn't mean the games are always going to stay relevant. Movies from the 1970s often convey themes that we would never see broached in movies of today, and games are no different. Using this theory we wanted to see if the games of the past twenty years have withstood the test of time; not based on their game play and graphics, but rather their themes. Are their stories compatible with 21st century living?

After looking at eight different games we were surprised with our findings and were excited to share what we had come across. Going in we all figured that most of the games would still be relevant, not only because they are fun games, but because most are only a few years. Although some games (like Super Mario Bros.) are twenty years old, most were released within the 1990s, which wasn't all that long ago. You would figure that the themes would still apply to today's games ... but that's not always what happened. I invite you to read on see just what games are and are not relevant these days.

Concept: TV game show contestants vie for "big money, big prizes" in a violent, Running Man-style game show. The more disturbing things they do the more trips, lawnmowers, and cash prizes they amass. Smash TV was hosted by a pompous twit surrounded by large-breasted women wearing more bling bling than P. Diddy, Ja Rule, and Jay Z combined.

In the Present Day: When Smash TV was first released I would have scoffed at the idea of game shows going to the extreme
to shock and disgust their viewers ... but here we are in 2005 and Smash TV isn't looking too extreme anymore. We're living in a time when NBC's prime time line up includes Fear Factor, a show whose only intent is making you sick, uncomfortable, and exhilarated. Dog Eat Dog, a short lived game show also on NBC, featured contestants doing dangerous stunts while a busty host eggs them on in the background. Or worse yet, ABC's airings of Extreme Makeover, a show based around people going under the knife and getting plastic surgery.

These shows are bad, but none come close to recreating the shear violence found in Smash TV. I mean, here's a game where hundreds of soldiers, robots, and snakes rush you from all sides and the only way for you to survive is by killing them. Think that's not around the corner? Perhaps you haven't seen Manhunt. No, not the morbid Rockstar game, but UPN's faux-reality series where contestants and professional wrestlers run around in a huge island packing paintball guns. Sure the show was discredited, but it certainly points to the path we're all stuck on.

Relevant? There is no question in my mind that this is still relevant. All you need to do is look at what people are doing on TV for money to see that Smash TV is nothing more than an extreme example of our potential future!
Concept: Konami's Track & Field finally gave couch potatoes everywhere a chance to compete in all the events they saw every four years on the Olympics. Sports like diving, hurdles, poll vaulting, shot put, cannoning, and archery; all with the realistic feel of jamming the buttons as fast as you possibly can. If you're the type of gamer who wants to go for gold, but has no interest training 12 hours a day, Track & Field was the perfect game for you.

In the Present Day: Since the release of Track & Field in 1983 the Olympics have been tapped many times by many different companies. Yet, no matter who makes the game or whether it's 3D or 2D, the control always seems to stay true to Konami's original button-mashing set-up. Some call it tried and true, I say it's archaic and carpel tunnel-inducing. But whether
it's my cup of tea or not is beside the point, the controls themselves are not what is relevant or not.

Perhaps the question should be, are the Olympics themselves relevant anymore. I'm not just talking about in the video game world, but in general. There was a time when it brought everybody together and real accomplishments happen, but those days are long gone and I would reckon that a good chunk of the gaming generation won't remember those good old Olympics. These days the sports are filler for extremely detailed stories about nobody's who practiced all their lives to get to this point ... and hopefully win something for the good old U. S. of A.

But these days there are a few things keeping the Olympics (and thus Track and Field by association) from being relevant. For one thing, nobody goes to them anymore. Also, there is simply too much worry over drugs and cheating (which appear to be very real, and going nowhere). As a nation we would rather watch our X Games, poker, and football than something called curling ... and that goes for games as well.

Relevant? No! Not only is the idea of mashing the buttons ridiculously outdated, but so are the Olympics. Nobody cares about the Olympics, and if you know what's good for you, you shouldn't care about Track & Field, either!


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