My family of five currently owns four Xbox 360s, and we’ve cumulatively gone through at least six or seven, ranging from the early models to the more recent Xbox slims (and a few special edition consoles). My sisters and I fiercely compete in Dance Central during the holidays. My father and I bond over loot in Borderlands during those long stretches of time between visits. Even my niece has caught the bug—at four years old, she already has a fondness for Disney Infinity that could rival my enthusiasm for my favorite franchises.
This generation of consoles has been about more than family, however. It’s also been about friends. I have fond memories of playing Rock Band into the wee hours of the morning back when I still lived in a dorm. When I was recovering from surgery, my friends gave me Minecraft, so we could visit one another’s “homes,” even when we were miles apart. More recently, another group of friends bought Diablo III for me, delivering their gift with a charmingly photo-shopped image of them, their copies of the game, and the words “Join Our Quest.”
That’s why, to my mind, this generation’s greatest triumph was its ability to develop a close-knit community. This was the generation where multiplayer truly flourished; even titles that didn’t necessarily need such a feature were scrambling to cash in on multiplayer’s popularity. Gaming arguably has evolved into a primarily social pastime, more so than it has been in the past. Gradually, the inclusion of apps and plugins saw this social feature develop the consoles into media hubs, making them focal points of the living room around which both families and friends gathered.
REXLY PENAFLORIDA II
The Metal Gear Solid games are what attracted me to video games. I remember playing the demo of the first one on the PlayStation and I was hooked from that point on. I got my PS2 because of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty so it only makes sense that I got my first PS3 on the release day of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Between that day and now, I’ve gone through three PS3s. The first died due to a burnt graphics card, the second would not display anything on the TV at all, and fortunately the third PS3 is still functioning. Unfortunately I never got an Xbox 360, but I’ve played it enough with friends that own one that I practically played with it just as much as my own PS3.
This generation of consoles was great. Even though online play started with the original Xbox and PS2, the Xbox 360 and PS3 made it better and more accessible to a larger amount of audiences, thus giving rise to multiplayer. While I still prefer the single-player experience, I realize that the multiplayer community will continue to grow even bigger than before as players around the world continue to share their experiences online. These consoles introduced the idea of the console being an all-around entertainment system that not only included games, but also music and videos, making them essentials for everyone in the household.
While we may still reminisce about certain games in past generations, the PS3 and Xbox 360 provided developers the chance to make unforgettable series such as Uncharted and Mass Effect while still continuing other longtime series from console generations past. Some series will still live on in the PS4 and Xbox One, but there is still time for developers to make the next big game.
My first experience with the “next-gen” was with a broken thumb. I had purchased my 360 in the last weeks of 8th grade (whoa!) and broke it right before. I spent the opening weeks of summer learning to play Full Auto, Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, Tomb Raider Legends and King Kong with my index finger subbing in for my thumb. I can’t really remember how I actually did it. The weirdest part is that so many of the games I was thrilled about just being able to play are ones I probably wouldn’t consider touching if they’d come out now.
As for the current next-gen, I’m a little bit underwhelmed. The graphics aren’t as impressive a leap as they were last time, and the other features aren’t exciting to me. Even things like Twitch integration seems like a small iteration rather than the real evolution I would hope for. The funny thing is, if these consoles had something as game-changing (pun-intended) as the Kinect or really even the WiiPad I’d be jumping for joy. For now I’ll just have to wait for something to really impress me and really say “next-gen.”
Image credits: (1) Time Magazine, (2) PlayStation Universe, (3) The Guardian