Then Nintendo 64 came out and it became apparent that it was now the next generation of gaming. But something about that system seemed regressive. Cartridges still—really? Even with the promise of slightly better graphics, Mario was some fat plumber who’d been around for a decade. PlayStation was the future. The graphics still looked as good as anything at the arcade. New franchises like Crash Bandicoot offered new opportunities. The games came on CDs. You could listen to CDs on the system. Plus, it was Sony. The same company that made the sick six-disc changer boombox you always wanted. The Walkman kept you kept not getting for Christmas because the Magnavox version did the same for less. The headphones you were certain made that Ma$e CD sound better. It was a no brainer.
PlayStation 2 wasn’t as hard of a sell. Video games were no longer some niche form of entertainment that your parents didn’t understand. And it played DVDs. Your dad didn’t want to spend $700 on a DVD player to upgrade your home’s media center, so you were able to convince him that $300 for the PS2 was actually an investment for the family. He even wanted to play Madden 2001 with you on the night you got it. Games had jumped to $50 and you still had a net worth of $0 so you might’ve only had one or two games for months, but that was enough. You felt superior when the friends who thought they were the shit with Dreamcast a year and a half prior saw their system become extinct due to the prowess of your newly acquired one. When those same friends got their PS2, you played online instead of biking across town. Grand Theft Auto changed your outlook on the world. It was all revolutionary. Life was good.
PlayStation 3 mattered less, but it still mattered. You were in college and mostly preoccupied with getting drunk and having awkward sex, but there was no doubt that a $600 system with Blu-Ray and WiFi signaled prosperity. As you transitioned into young adulthood, the status attached to these types of items became equally, if not more, important than the games themselves. You got an Xbox 360, though. It was cheaper and more popular. Plus, you had to buy a system for yourself for the first time, and who couldn’t use that extra $300? You occasionally played someone else’s PS3 or Wii and found no desire to purchase one. You had good stoned times gaming with the bros in your dorm and that was all you needed.
Now you’re an adult. You have a job. You probably have a girlfriend. Your focus is on conquering the real world, not the eighth level of some virtual one. The PlayStation 4 just sold one million units in 24 hours and it’s irrelevant. Nobody you know has or wants one. None of the multimedia options are impressive because you can watch Netflix and do anything on the Internet from the millimeters thick mobile device in your pocket. The $400 that system costs is nothing to you now, but you’d rather spend that on a plane ticket or a good dinner. Not some instantly archaic-feeling electronic that will inevitably collect dust and only serve as conversational fodder with house guests for a maximum of two months.
You know that games don’t hold your heart the way they used to because nostalgic anticipation of Grand Theft Auto V was more fun than actually playing it. And unlike your younger years, anytime you did play it, there was actually something better that you could, or should, have been doing. No one even favorites your witty tweets about PlayStation 4. No one cares. It’s shocking to realize, but you grew up. Everyone did.