In this series of posts I want to explore games from my past. In doing so I aim to not only highlight pieces of game history (good or bad), but also examine my personal relationship to gaming. In this post I want to focus on possible one of my favourite games of all time: Spyro the Dragon
I honestly hadn’t thought about Spyro for years, until I noticed JackScepticEye was doing a lets play of Year of the Dragon, the third game in the Spyro franchise. Watching his video brought about some strong feelings in me. I played Year of the Dragon and its predecessor, Gateway to Glimmer so much. So much. Seeing that first world just instantly brought back memories of sitting in front of my Playstation, happily controlling the little dragon. I was shocked I had temporarily forgotten his existence.
As I mentioned above, Spyro was, and possibly still is, one of my favourite games. I loved the environment, all the worlds you could visit; I loved Spyro himself; I loved the NPCs and their ridiculous problems; I loved everything about these games. These were also the first console games I ever completed by myself, an achievement I was incredibly proud of.
Join me on a tangent for a moment… Have you ever walked down a street you used to frequent but no longer use? Maybe the route to school, the street you once lived on, the way to an old friend or lover’s house. Either way its somewhere unremarkable but nevertheless very familiar to you, and for what ever reason you haven’t walked down this road in a long while. Suddenly you realise this and you are consumed by feelings you cannot accurately verbalise. It’s more than nostalgia, it’s like for just one second, you were the you that used to walk down this path all the time. For just one moment you have access to all the thoughts and feelings you had then, so strong and clear, it’s almost like you have travelled back in time. Then your foot hits the pavement, you step forward and it’s gone. You no longer have that clear insight into your past self, just a lingering memory that it happened and dual feelings of sadness and happiness. When this happens to me, I think of it as passing through my own ghost -a version of myself that is occupying the same geological space as this present version, and all that is separating us is time.
Watching the first few seconds of JackScepticEye’s lets play left me with that feeling, but instead of being in the same physical space as my past self, I was in the same digital place. And I was nine years old, up at 7am to play games before going to school, having so much trouble with that damn trolley. Just like I have so many memories attached to the physical world I inhabited as a child, I have many memories attached to virtual ones. Walking around the world of Spyro brought so many of them back, so strongly – it was incredible.
I think this is an amazing phenomenon for our generation, and a strong argument for video game preservation. I can’t visit a lot of places I loved as a child – for one it would be weird to break into someone else’s house for the sake of nostalgia – but the physical world changes: buildings get demolished, parks fall into disrepair, schools are rebuilt brighter and better. The digital world of my childhood, conserved within disks and cartridges can remain for longer. Always there, always waiting for you to visit again and remember.
Please share with me your feelings on nostalgia and the key games of your childhood – I’d love to hear your memories.