The lights are on
The game industry isn't perfect. Even with all of the great games available, you can still find complaints about DLC, microtransactions, copy protection, online requirements, and a host of other issues that get between gamers and their favorite hobby. However, you don't have look far back in time to see how far we've come. The inconveniences we deal with today seem small compared with these hassles we endured in previous generations, all in the name of gaming.
If you want to rent a game now, you subscribe to GameFly and keep it for as long as you want. Back when there were video stores, kids would rush in on Friday afternoons to grab a game for the weekend (which would be due on Sunday). That's not too bad, but what if you were playing Final Fantasy III or Breath of Fire? You had to hope that no one got there before you and deleted your save file from your last rental.
While holding modern ergonomic game pads, it can be easy to forget the blisters you developed on any number of old-school d-pads and buttons. They worked in short bursts, but any marathon gaming sessions left aching indentations on your thumbs and fingers.
You're All AloneThe Internet has made life as a gamer much easier on the whole, especially when it comes to getting out of tough spots. If you ran into a boss that was too hard, a confounding puzzle, or even a glitch, you didn't have a vast network of resources to turn to for help. You just had to figure it out, give up, or start over. Sometimes you could call 900-numbers for tips, but rare were the parents who would condone that expenditure.
Whether it's blowing into the cartridge to clear the dust or gingerly placing and positioning it just right, getting an older system to even read the game you're trying to play could be a challenge. These days, when you stick a disc with no visible defects into your system, at least you can be reasonably sure that it will be recognized.
Yes, always-on DRM is a huge pain, since server downtime can temporarily render you unable to play your game. Compare that to PC games of old, which often came packaged with bizarre cipher decryption keys. These keys would help players solve in-game puzzles that would otherwise be unsolvable. If you happened to lose your key, you weren't just out of commission for a few hours; you were done for good.
What To Buy?Today, the gaming industry is covered by a wide range of media outlets, and scores are aggregated for easy reference to help inform purchasing decisions. In the early days? Without magazines, websites, or metacritic, you could only turn to friends or to store clerks to help make your choices. Back then, really cool box art went a long way toward persuading buyers.
Coming Up Next: Even more dumb things we put up with for the love of games.
Email the author Joe Juba, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.