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In my day…

That was real music, Mr Winnie. None of that modern claptrap.

Murder In The Red Barn

There’s a terrible tendency for some folk to slip into “things were better in my day” when writing about older videogames and I can’t fib, it drives me absolutely spare. Whether it’s the implausible claim that games used to be released in a perfectly working state (which has never been true) or designed not to take your money (also not true) or anything in between, I just don’t understand the levels of ignoring reality it takes to even beginning thinking along those lines.

I do, however, accept that it is an eternal constant. I may never be able to understand what possesses someone to slip into get off my lawn mode over any art form, I do understand that every generation goes through the same thing.

These days (not like in the old days) I tend to think of the wonderful Tod Slaughter film, Murder In The Red Barn when thinking about “kids today” thinking. It’s a great adaptation of a bunch of Victorian era melodramatic plays and Slaughter takes his usual obvious pleasure in playing the villainous Squire Corder which makes the film a delight! However, it’s an early scene that sticks with me the most.

The film opens at a dance organised by the squire where a band plays, there are dances and drink and smiles all round. Nearly everyone attending is having a wonderful time. As the entertainment comes to a close, there’s a brief scene where a guest congratulates the band and in doing so, thanks them for playing “real music … none of that modern claptrap”.

Kids today, eh.

The film is from 1936 and I’m certain there’s plenty of examples of the same sentiment in literature and plays in the years prior. Look, I haven’t researched this but given as long as I can remember I’ve heard variations on the same thought or people taking the piss out of other people for it so I feel pretty comfortable making that claim. I lived through the eighties and synth bands existing and I still wear the scars of “that’s not real music, no guitars see”, there’s always something.

Personally, I don’t subscribe to the idea that games (or any other art form) are forever moving in a forward direction whether that’s for better or for worse.

Whilst we certainly learn from games and works that have gone before, there’s so many tangents and routes to explore that it’ll be years before we’ve even touched the sides of it all and along the way we’ll continue trying things that perhaps aren’t to someone else’s tastes, making a mess with stuff that works out, stuff that doesn’t and all this can be in just one game, never mind all of them.

These things are messy and I get a great deal of pleasure from the mess.

As long as there’s money to be made, there’ll be games made to extract cash from someone as efficiently as possible and games that prefer to just be and have none of that, thanking you. At both ends of that particular spectrum there will be great games and not so great games made and some will hit the spot in ways other older games could not, some will pine for the fjords for the games of Christmas past, some will have their feet firmly in the future, some will even be pretty nasty.

Whatever, it’s going to be a wild ride and no amount of “in my day” will make it any less exciting to me.

Let’s raise a glass to the now and the future of videogames and the glorious mess that they are. Oh, and do give Murder In The Red Barn a watch, it’s brilliant stuff.

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