Were Older Computer Games Better?

There may be retro gamers out there who feel that older games were better. As subjective as this opinion may be, I do feel that there could be something to how they feel. Old computer games were fun, original, and seeded what games have become today.

Setting aside my opinions as a millennial gamer, and my personal opinions that some newer games are missing a certain spice. If older games were in fact, “better”, why do we think they were better?

were older computer games better back in the good old days!
Were older computer games better? Photo credit : Donald Teel / Unsplash

Weighing up whether old games were better is as tricky to answer as it is subjective.

I believe old games have a lot of merit. I also have an emotional attachment to some older games which would sway my thinking. Now, putting this all aside for the sake of argument… were older computer games better?

I have played computer games from as far back as the 1980s, old games were fun, they were varied and they were hard.

I played some great games, some crap games, and some buggy games.

I played old computer games on my brother’s Commodore, Amiga, Sega Mega Drive, and a 486 PC.

Older computer games were better in many ways, from their originality, passion, and vision from the game developers and bedroom studios. Unfettered, game creators were willing to take creative risks and use less formulaic and stale approaches to developing their games. The games industry was in its infancy and was yet to be explored. It was an exciting time.

Other factors that made older computer games better? There was less corporate ‘greasiness’ in the games industry – less greed and money grabbing in other words.

The industry was less of a machine. Older games also catered to different limitations and tastes of the time. Games were harder, but that may not have been an accident.

Lure of the Tempress - Developed by Revolution Software - tricky adventure game

Were older computer games better? In some ways.

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Were older computer games better? Who plays, who cares!

Retro gamers feel that older games still have something to offer to gaming. Whether it is their originality, fun, or simple nostalgia. People love old games and continue to play old computer games.

Whether old computer games are better from a taste point of view – each to their own! Newer generations of gamers may not get the appeal, but then generations to come – their children’s children, may think and say the same thing.

Those who love older computer games are not a small group.

Some of the most popular of old games are being remade. If these games were not good in the first place, game development companies would not consider it wise to remake these games.

Were they better? Older gamers may not feel that they are better to play. But they will certainly have a lot of love for games regardless of quality and technology.

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What I Think Was Better About Old Computer Games

When I reminisce back to old computer games, I’m transported back to the front bedroom in my Dad’s house.

It was a warm evening of the summer holidays. The window overlooked a treelined estuary at the bottom of the valley. The reflection in the water was coloured pink and orange from the light…

The room, and the back of my be-speckled head, were most likely bathed by the light from the setting sun from the fields on the horizon…

I had no interest in looking at the horizon then… could not care less! ( that was then ). I was more interested in learning how to type commands into MS-DOS to play something like Legends of Valour. I used to play computer games like Monkey Island and Indiana Jones and The Fate of Atlantis. Or if I were to delve a little deeper, watching my brother play X-wing with his mate on my Dad’s 486 PC.

When my brother played X-wing, I was not allowed to play then! He was the big brother. I knew my place.

Another fond memory I have is of playing computer games in my early teens. I used to play games such as Tomb Raider or FF7.

Tomb Raider, X Wing or various other games were not strictly made so the that player would win! And this, for me, is something I love and certainly find better about older computer games. I miss it.

Older computer games were a challenge, they didn’t shy away from upsetting the player.

There was no internet, you couldn’t find tips online, you just had to muscle it.

Something I enjoyed in particular about PC games, was their uniqueness and the fact they came with really exciting packaging boxes and manuals. The experience began before you installed the game.

But all this said, you may notice something about my answer, and I feel that this could correlate with a lot of retro gaming and nostalgia. Through rose-tinted glasses, we revisit these games, these happy memories are what made the game and experience better. We are revising parts of our childhood. It is the emotion attached to the computer game that makes them better, not necessarily the game itself.

Were older computer games better? Yes and no.

In some respects ‘yes’ older computer games were better for happy memories. But in other other aspects, certainly not. The graphics were nowhere near as sophisticated as they are today. But there was a certain magic to old computer games that allowed the great gaming experiences.

Factors that made older computer games better

  • You had genre-defining games
  • Older computer games were better due to their originality.
  • It wasn’t all about the money ( less so at least )
  • Older mainstream games were generally more experimental and unexplored
  • There was less hand-holding in older computer games
  • Computer games of the past were often more driven by a developer’s vision
  • Technological limitations made game developers more creative with what they had
  • There were fewer game engines – if any, as starter blocks.
  • Because there were fewer game engines, all aspects of a game would vary more.
  • Not every game got morphed into an RPG, they were more diverse.
  • 2 player or couch games were more common.
  • In some games, you would have to engage your brain and choose where to save
  • Games were more about the game and less about the cinematics
  • They were attached to childhood memories
  • Games were less abundant and felt special

Were older computer games better, I think they were in some ways. But that shouldn’t take anything away from modern gaming. Some of my favourite areas for games are indie titles and what AA studios produce. I would also say that many new younger gamers have it pretty good in terms of game supply too.

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