I couldn’t help but chuckle a little bit after reading Phil Spencer’s recent and well-meaning Xbox Wire post, “You Are the Future of Gaming.” Microsoft wants to the Xbox Series X to do well, obviously, and Mr. Spencer is an awesome salesman. The post thoughtfully enforces Xbox’s current mantra of inclusion and access — how gaming of the future will reflect and consider all of us in some way, and how the XSX will be the perfect means to that end.
Mind you, the PS5 will be the other perfect means to that same end, but I digress.
Point is, the reason I laughed to (and at) myself after reading that article is because, as I looked around at my beloved PS3, Xbox 360, and mile-long gaming backlogs from PC to console, I felt as far from the future as ever. “Stuck in the past” is a more appropriate phrase to describe my current gaming habits as I approach, of all times, the precipice of a new console generation.
But, if I really think on it, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly where I was when the PS4/Xbox One released: excited about the next generation while remaining excited about the one about to pass. I like the idea of having both a PS5 and XSX at my disposal someday. But until then, I’m more than happy with playing/replaying the “old” games I have now.
The weird truth of the matter is that I’ve really only just become a current gen player within the past couple years. Sure, when we first got a new PS4, I played…a game on it. (The Last of Us, which I never finished.) And when we got an Xbox One, I played, um…a few games on it (Dragon Age: Inquisition comes to mind most readily.) But at the time I was much more interested in replaying old games and discovering new games for my Xbox 360 and PS3. And then along came Steam, which threw a monkey wrench into my plans, but I welcomed it nonetheless. It wasn’t until I got my own PS4 in 2018 that playing “new” games became more my focus. (I suspect that the current gen will open up to me further if/when I might get to take full possession of our Xbox One when the XSX arrives.) So, to say I’m behind the times as far as gaming tech goes is an understatement.
But even as I sit here in my living room typing, I see before me no fewer than a half-dozen devices on which to play games. If I were so inclined, I could dig up another three or four devices from elsewhere in the house and plug them in, too. This coming from someone who, like many of you perhaps, grew up in a house with ONE game consoles and maybe a PC of one sort or another, the sheer access one has to cheap and affordable gaming these days is rather remarkable.
But the seeming happiness of that scene becomes overwhelmingly sad and financially less viable when you add on yet another set of new consoles, with new games, and new peripherals. Then again, that’s how it always is, right? The future becomes defined by those who can immediately afford it, and the rest of us join along for the ride.
Frankly, if Microsoft wants me to become part of the future of gaming, they’ll have to find a way to make more time, because that is the most expensive, fragile, and least available asset of them all.
Let’s be clear. I love all the new console hype. I love reading about the visions of what gaming will be like in five to ten to twenty years. And I love that there are people out there thinking about video games on a much larger and grander scale than me wondering what I’m going to play today. As everyone always says, there is no better time to be a video game player than right now. I may not see myself as part of the future of gaming, but that’s only because I can’t yet see the shore beyond the vast ocean of games in which I’m swimming. The future may be the past by the time I get there, but I’ll get there nonetheless.
Lede image created by author; PS5 and Xbox Series X logos trademarked by Sony Corporation and Microsoft Corporation, respectively.