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How I Destroyed Console Gaming: A Tale of Superstition

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By Nelson Schneider - 07/16/17 at 03:40 PM CT

I generally pride myself on not being a superstitious person. Witnessing the *facepalm*-worthy antics of my Catholic grandmother growing up pushed me away from superstition and toward the path of rationality, even while my personal interests in the paranormal and supernatural tugged me back toward madness.

No matter how hard I try to discard all superstitious nonsense in my day-to-day life, clearing the temple of my mind for Truth and Reason, there lingers a vague feeling that a specific thing I did during the 7th Generation had far-reaching symbolic significance and somehow, via proxy, the actions of one insignificant man reverberated through the ether, destroying the part of the videogame industry I held most dear.

What is this terrible thing I did? No, it wasn’t building a gaming PC and switching to Steam and GOG for 90%+ of my gaming needs: That was a reaction to the continuing downfall of console gaming. One cannot immediately assume that those who leap from the deck of a sinking ship are all guilty of causing said ship to sink. No, the terrible, unforgivable act I committed was largely symbolic:

I unplugged my Super Nintendo.

The SNES is the Eternal Emperor of the Golden Age of Gaming. Under the SNES, arcade timewasters designed to siphon quarters out of pockets evolved into a genuine medium for the conveyance of stories and ideas. I kept my SNES plugged in all through the tumultuous 5th and 6th Generations, during which all of the new platforms got off to extremely rocky starts, confident that, so long as the SNES reigned over console gaming, even as an Emperor in Repose or as Buddha, lingering just this side of Nirvana to aid others in their journeys toward Enlightenment, everything would be okay. And it was. For a time.

But during the 7th Generation, my old CRT television died and I needed to replace it. In the process, I was forced to reorganize my entertainment center. With my new flat-panel LED screen lacking in old-school ports, I had to pick and choose which classic consoles to keep connected. Since my Wii had “The Homebrew Channel” installed, and could therefore play all of my NES, SNES, Genesis, Game Boy, etc. games with absolutely no fuss via emulation, I decided to use my new TV’s limited ports to connect consoles that aren’t so easily emulated: The Sega Saturn and Sega Dreamcast.

The Eternal Emperor found himself going into a box, and that box found itself going into a cupboard. As soon as the SNES’ physical presence disappeared from my entertainment center, things began to go horribly wrong with console gaming: Firmware updates, game patches, microtransactions, content-free-online-PvP retardation, ‘Dark Souls.’ The 7th Generation transformed into a Hellscape that would not seem out-of-place in biblical Apocalypse story. Good became Evil and Evil became Good: PC gaming suddenly lost most of its foul and sulfurous stench, whilst Sony and Microsoft positively bathed in it.

My rational mind knows that my unplugging my SNES coinciding with the games industry going to Hell in a handbasket is pure coincidence. Yet the lingering, superstitious monkey that lives inside my mind – inside all our minds – weeps and despairs at the horrors that have followed in the wake of one single, careless, thoughtless, seemingly-insignificant act. The lesson to be learned here is to never take simple acts for granted. Always consider the consequences that could follow from something as innocuous as buying some in-game currency, or bending over for a suddenly-mandatory subscription. While a single one of us, as gamers, has little power to shape the gaming hobby/industry, all of us together wield significant power. When things get worse, we have only ourselves to blame, because we allowed it to happen.

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