Friday, 22 May 2015

Necro-gaming sub-culture

(Note: Apologies for this near unintelligible waffle - but it was something I wrote in the early hours after the epiphany that 'new games' just don't cut it with me at the moment...)

'Necro-gaming'...Not a pretty term - has all sorts of unpleasant overtones, but fear not dear reader I am not flying off into some sort of sexual deviancy! A necro-gamer is simply a computer gamer who continues to play particular games long after they have been pronounced as being 'dead' by the mainstream community and are no longer supported by the original developer.

NOT necro-gaming but retro-gaming - Bungie's Marathon (although made available
to work on modern platforms) probably is an example of where the line can be drawn
between necro (dead games) and retro (old games).

This is not the same thing as retro-gaming, it is probably an off-shoot, but isn't about playing an early version of 'Mario' on a obsolete gaming platform. A lot of necro-games are not quite old enough to be considered 'retro' and are played not to get some sort of 'old skool' gaming' kick so much as being a case of the gamer thinking one day 'Dude, you know I haven't played 'X' for a long while' (usually while drinking with mates and waffling on about 'do you remember that time...', etc).

Above: Hard-core necro-gaming? Last year UKGN celebrated the 10th
anniversary of the release of Novalogic's 'Joint Ops' but sparking up
the game (sadly just in co-op training mode as servers no longer exist).

Anyway, I happen to do a lot of necro-gaming. If you are my regular 'reader' (I hardly have a big following) you will know I am a huge 'fan boy' of the original Ghost Recon series, a game which hails from 2001. And just last night I happened to re-install and spark up Bad Company 2: Vietnam, which is another game that to most gamers is 'not long in the ground'!

[Note: My experiences re-igniting BC2: 'Nam highlighted one of the major hurdles that you will encounter if you attempt to necro-game - that being the dearth of server support. I could only find 2 servers available for the game now, having said that they were both full.]

What has surprised me is that necro-gaming is not as niche as you might think and furthermore it seems to be a growing sub-genre...

Above: 'Gobin Gee' has a YouTube channel that highlights his adventures in
'necro-gaming' - in this case he showcases 2003's Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield.

Thanks to STEAM and GOG a lot more people are indulging their nostalgic leanings as these later day gaming Burke and Hares dig up some golden oldies and repackage them so they run on modern systems. Many classic games - sadly - refuse to install these days due to Microsoft Window's evolution, but STEAM & GOG (for example) seem to weave some sort of magic to make these older games run again, without any fuss...They also re-release these games quite cheaply, which is nice as even if - like me - you still have the original CDs time has probably done it's worst and your disc may be scratched to buggery!

Now I had supposed that - as said - necro-gaming is a very niche practice but I am becoming aware that more and more people are participating. Part of this is a nostalgia thing but also, it appears, a general dissatisfaction with the mainstream computer game industry is a big part of it.

I seem to sense that there are a lot of dissatisfied gamers out there that feel - as I do - that the big dev companies are simply ignoring players' aspirations and are content to churn out variations on the same tired money earning themes. (Hollywood seems to be going through the same inability to take risks and be creative.)

Above: A very interesting video by Westie - it not only highlights the popularity of
what is supposed to be a 'dead game' (Bad Company 2: Vietnam) but he also talks about some of the issues that gamers have with the directions that some of the big franchises take, causing them to hanker after 'the good old days'.

...So a lot of gamers are returning to games that they feel did satisfy their peculiar appetites and this seems to be - in particular - a reoccurring theme within the Tactical First Person Shooter community.

I have already mentioned Classic Ghost Recon (many times through the years) so - as an example - let's take another popular necro-game, Battlefield 2 (2009).

Name that BF2 map! Happy days!

Now BF2 had it's faults, but (and this is a reoccurring complaint within the genre community) was decidedly more satisfying - in team game play terms - than the subsequent alliterations. I won't go into the 'whys' - as a lot of the time the reasons a game becomes a necro-hit is so nebulous as to resist explanation - but none-the-less a small ardent hard-core of players have doggedly striven to keep the game from decomposing into dust, despite it's obituary being of public record.

EA Games made the following pronouncement on BF2: "Note: As of June 2014, our friends at GameSpy have ended all hosted game services, which will affect the online multiplayer aspect of this game. Because of technical challenges and concerns, EA does not have a solution to keep these services up and running at this time, and online services for this game and other EA games on the GameSpy platform have ended. "

To paraphrase Charles Dickens - 'BF2 was dead...There is no doubt whatever about that.  The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner...BF2 was as dead as a door-nail.'

[Note: In fact if you try and spark up multiplayer BF2 now the thing will likely just crash out!]

...And yet, despite having no official server support (the pulse indicator for online multiplayer games) the third-party community driven mod Project Reality continues to be both developed and downloaded. Just search YouTube and you will find out just how popular this version of BF2 is.

Amazingly, bearing in mind the usual shelf-life of computer games and that BF2 was originally released in 2009, on the 29th May 2015 this video was uploaded...

Does that look like a dead game to you?

Look around YouTube and you will find other necro-game videos. This is very exciting for both the jaded gamer who is looking for something to play other than the current crop of so-so released, but is even better news for shy necro-gamers who - until now - have been hiding their predilection from their other gaming friends for fear of mockery!

SO...I say - stand proud necro-gamers! No longer hide your deviant tastes in the shadows!

...Oh, and I couldn't resist adding some - you guessed it - Classic Ghost Recon (again by Goblin Gee). Enjoy...

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