Video Games and Metal Rambling
Posted by RiffRaff
Since I was a wee one in the early 80’s there have been 2 things that have really stuck with me non-stop since I first got my hands on them. Heavy metal and video games. Both I wholly enjoy equally and enjoy on a near regular basis. Each medium I have been lucky enough to have been around to enjoy since their near beginnings and have more or less grown up along side of them. I still remember the first time I swung across the alligator in the pond in Pitfall and I’ll never forget Bruce Dickinson’s scream on Number of the Beast. These early memories with video games and music are some that I will always cherish. With both mediums one could say that their high point was in the 80’s. Nintendo was delighting the worlds imagination with games like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda and bands like Metallica and Slayer were making huge marks on the metal landscape, all forever changing the ways both would advance in the future.
Through the 90’s both games and metal were riding strong, but were also finding a more mainstream audience. They were becoming more accepted by the general populous and for many companies, they were huge money makers. Suffice to say video games were bringing a whole lot more of the almighty dollar than metal bands and had a broader audience and music had a much stronger underground scene, but for the sake of argument, stick with me here. In games, while there were some stand out originals like Chrono Cross, anything Lucas Arts made, Starcraft, and Super Metroid, there was also double of crappy uninspired games trying to cash in movement. For every Mario, there were 2 Yo Noids. Same in metal, I just have to say grunge and nu-metal and you get where I’m going with that. It started to get to the point where I once thought that my beloved past-times would become diluted and fade away into obscurity. Luckily the fanbase of these 2 things stuck with their passions and that never happened.
In the early 00’s a shift started happening. While the dilution of both mediums was still there, it had start to dissipate and more care was being put into each. Developers and bands really started to experiment with what could be done in their respective passions. Games like Silent Hill 2, Metal Gear Solid, and Devil May Cry pushed boundaries on what could be done within game. They started to explore more adult themes as well as pushing to introduce much-needed new gameplay mechanics and narrative delivery. On the other side more cerebral bands like Tool and Mastodon were gaining a strong momentum in popular music. There was also an explosion of lesser known metal bands making hard envelope pushes combining various styles of music into their metal and succeeding with great results.
The latter part of the 00’s to now finds both these mediums at a crossroads again, much like they were in the 90’s. The stark creativity that was booming at the turn of the century seemed to lull out. In games sequel after sequel of the same derivative game was being released. For every Shadow of the Colossus, Bioshock, or Portal there were some sub-par block buster Call of Duty rehash or rip off game. In metal for every Opeth or Gojira there was yet another breakdown overdrive metal-core band or poly rhythm obsessed djent band. Where had all that creativity gone and why are all these copy cats here? Lucky for me and my other hardcore gamers and metalheads, we knew where the good stuff was. But what about everyone else? No promotional love for the ones pushing boundaries, no television commercials for Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, no huge deal made about the new Moonsorrow record?
Well luckily with the internet being as huge as it is today this lack of promotion isn’t much of a problem and combating the derivative is as easy as ever. We are all able to share our favorite things with each other and recommend stuff to people we would have never thought of talking to or reaching. Word of mouth buzz has become a major promotional tool and one of the most powerful of all. This word of mouth has really made the underground scene of both games and music reach new heights being almost as big as the mainstream once was, but more spread out albeit. Games like Amnesia: The Dark Decent, Braid, and Limbo became immensely huge successes made off meager budgets and diy bands like Agalloch, Cormorant, and Hammers of Misfortune are making some pretty damn big waves in the metal scene. All of their success is built off of your word of mouth, so I guess the whole point of all this rambling I’ve done is, no matter what something is, if you like it, don’t just buy it. Talk about it, recommend it to your friends, pester you Facebook news feed on how much you dug it, start a blog and write rambling post like these. The more you talk about it the more it will spread like a virus and in the end you will be able to get much more of what you like. Win-win situation.
So yeah, support your favorite things. Did you love a book, I want to hear about it, a game, same. You found a great band you never heard before on Youtube, share that shit. Some indie film you love is playing 3 cities away, grab some friends and make a nice road trip out of it. And never be afraid to dig around in the underground. While there may be a lot of duds there, there are a whole lot more gems than you might think. Peace Love and Metal!!
Check out this trailer for an amazing game I just started playing, To the Moon. More on this one to follow in the coming weeks.