All About 0B3L15k_o_Li9hT
Honestly speaking, I've been a gamer for as long as I can remember, but it's only been in the last month or so that I've discovered a new, wonderful and exciting world: the world of shmups. Beautiful, visceral, and vividly coloured, I really am as hooked on these simple, short but oh-so-sweet titles as I ever have been to a Final Fantasy, a Half-Life or a Tekken.
Indeed, much of my waking thought is filled with intricate patterns formed from bright laser shots; with Caves and Touhous; with 8ings and Raizings; with Radiant Silverguns, various derivatives of Donpachis, and the years surrounding WWII (if you know what I mean). In fact, so addicted am I that I've just acquired my first Dreamcast -something I passed up first time around-, and I'm seriously considering pricing some MDF to make my very own MAME cabinet.
But what has struck me in researching the genre -the majority of which is done, of course, via YouTube- is that there exists a dichotomy of gamers and gaming preferences of which I was previously unaware. Specifically, this is typified by the desired result of the player's endeavors; the `aim of the game'.
It's probably implicit in my first list of games cited, but when I play a game, I look for a compelling story, immersive gameplay, deep characterisation, and an ending I deem worth the time and effort invested (preferably in the form of an FMV, I'll admit). However, when I watch people playing these games on YouTube, they are most often uploading them as a vehicle by which to show the world the complete and absolute extent to which they totally pwn the game in subject. Thus, rather than the satisfaction I derive from playing a game to its conclusion, these gamers derive theirs from something which I had never even considered an important facet. Amassing tremendous and somewhat impressive scores, these players cement their bragging rights by scoring more then those others who have posted before them.
Ultimately, I think that I was unaware of this phenomenon because of my age: at 25, I'm of the generation that saw what was arguably the conception of home gaming - starting with the C64, the NES, the Amiga. A corollary of this is that I'm also of the generation that saw arcade machines leap from costing 20ps and quarters per play, to pounds and dollars, and simply we were priced out of the demographic and could no longer afford to spend an afternoon at the arcades. Because of this, we lost our tag spots: we had the time, we had the inclination, but we lacked the raw capital to establish ourselves on the High Score table. We could never hope to challenge BAZ or ROX for the top of the podium; we could never earn the right to emblazon the cabinets with a pseudonym which would define ourselves from the crowd. So shamefully low were our scores that we had little choice but to cloak ourselves in the anonymity of AAA.
But this is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the genre: not just that I have discovered a new subcategory of games spanning decades, but that I have happened upon a revelation which has opened my eyes to an aspect of the gaming world I had never realised existed. Profoundly, the shmup has revealed a new side to a world in which I had considered myself an expert, and has changed my world outlook entirely.
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