Originally published on GameInformer.com January 22, 2014, at 10:00 AM.
Selected for Blog Herding -- The Best Blogs of the Community, 1/30/14.
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Update 6/4/18: Select screenshots from this pictorial appear at bottom.
In some ways I've become a slave to my phlogs, so have chosen to return to writing a more analytical piece about a subject that is impacting and will impact all our lives: Obsolescence. The definition is "the state of becoming old-fashioned and no longer used, especially because of being replaced by something newer and more effective."
Of course this relates to the current state of affairs in the video game industry as console hardware transitions from current gen to next gen and all that technological leap entails. Whether among this site's members, one's clanmates or gamers in general, we all are staking claim, either to the new frontier or to familiar mainstays.
Such tumult can be traumatic as dedicated gamers are torn between neglected backlogs and next gen standard-bearers. Yes the trauma is a relative exaggeration but reflects the anxiety that more commonplace technological advances elicit in a public increasingly reliant or at least devoted to them.
You might know that my gamertag, Shootist2600, is a reference not only to my beloved Atari 2600 but to the John Wayne film The Shootist, about an aging gunslinger taking on young pretenders anxious to make a name for themselves. As an older gamer, I'm constantly reminded of my status as an anachronistic oddity.
It's even more pronounced when the industry migrates to successive generations of gaming consoles. I typically am a late adopter by choice and cling to my familiar backlog despite the allure of titles like Killzone: Shadowfall or Need for Speed: Rivals, not to mention the considerable bells and whistles of these aspiring entertainment centers.
But more profound in many ways is the fear of being left behind the cultural curve. Industry discussion had already focused on next gen topics long before their retail release, and early adopters are adding their voice to the rising chorus of people in the know. I've never followed trends nor been in the vanguard on any subject, but participation alone can be its own reward.
Obsolescence, unfortunately, can take many forms and life has an uncanny and sometimes disturbing way of imitating art. In my case, nascent automation has resulted in new layoffs, and those affected are faced with entering the job market in some cases after 15 or 20 years of employment with the same company.
This situation not only brings into stark relief possible shortcomings in technological proficiencies but also highlights the challenges in general faced by an aging workforce when re-entering the pool of prospective applicants regardless of position. And to a lesser extent, those not laid off are faced with adapting to new systems and processes.
As we age, it's difficult to escape the feeling that we are constantly playing catchup in a futile effort to stay abreast of the changes that whipsaw our lives. In some cases, adhering to the old, familiar ways of doing things provides comfort and reassurance in the face of dramatic and uncertain prospects. This is true whether an established personal or professional role or last gen gaming console.
I recognize the influence and importance of new hardware and software in my day to day experience, but I also am a creature of comfort as well as being somewhat practical. As mentioned, I have a huge backlog that keeps getting bigger, whether longtime titles that have been neglected too long or newer games waiting to be played.
In this context, it's difficult for me to justify new hardware and the accompanying software it uses. So I stall. Truth be told, it's usually my wife who who will make the purchase as a gift, bless her heart! But even she's skeptical of brand new technology and cautions patience. Still, there comes a time when excuses are cast aside and one takes a leap of faith.
Whether for our day to day lives or livelihoods, or for entertainment purposes, we recognize the need to move forward and evolve, lest we be irrevocably left behind. Of course, that recognition might be forced on us by issues beyond our control, whether downsized, red-ringed or yellow-lighted. Regardless, it's a situation we all confront sooner or later.
According to The Economist (January 18, 2014), "One recent study by academics at Oxford University suggests that 47% of today's jobs could be automated in the next two decades." That's a sobering statistic. Change is more immediate -- and welcome -- when considering gaming console life cycles.
If we're lucky, we can elect when and how we upgrade our lives. Then, we can luxuriate in old, familiar mainstays to our heart's content, and only move on when we're ready to fully embrace the future. Evolve on our terms. After all, there's value in antecedents; of course, I'm one myself!
And in the spirit of celebrating everything archaic, I am going to revel in my obsolescence. An obsolescence I'm proud to share with my now last gen gaming consoles. And with you. Because no generation gap is so large that our gaming -- a continuum that binds -- can't bridge the expanse.
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