The Golden Age Of Gaming- by Anjum Razaq

We are currently living in the Golden Age of gaming. This may seem like a strange statement to make as this current generation of consoles lumbers on but I stand by that statement. The golden age of gaming has been ushered in not by triple AAA titles or by the many numbered sequals but rather by the thriving indie scene. Now I’m no Indie loving ‘scenster’ but you would be hard pressed to argue against the fact that the most original and innovative games have come from the Indie scene this generation. There are numerous reasons for this but one of the key ones is that this generation of consoles has been going for nearly a decade and in an unstable economic climate with mass game studio closures many big studios are playing it safe with updates on well known and profitable franchises instead of investing in creating new IP’s (Intellectual Property i.e. new games). This has led to a creative void in mainstream gaming and a renaissance in the Indie scene.

There are a variety of reasons I believe that we are in the golden age of gaming, but I think foremost is the low entry point to produce games now. With the popularity of the internet, online tutorials and free game engines available it has never been easier to make the game you have been thinking of. In the past to produce a game would have taken a lot of coding knowledge and some investment in high end software and hardware. Now with this hurdle removed everyone can make games using tools such as Unreal Engine, Cry Engine, Unity and much more.

The internet has democtratised the way people present and advertise their products. In the past there would have been much money spent on getting promotional material out there just to get your game recognised but with blogs, forums and gaming sites you don’t always need expensive marketing as word of mouth and fandom will make sure that the cream of the gaming crop always rises to the top. With a variety of ways to share files such as Steam, PSN and Xbox Live it has never been easier to get your game out there to the masses.

Also with the advent of Kickstarter (a funding platform for creative projects) it is now relatively easy to get crowd sourced funding to create the projects you want. It is ironic that one of the most supported crowd sourced projects is the Ouya (a sub $99 hackable computer which actively encourages playing around with the software), further democratises the game producing arena. The Ouya has shipped this week and it will be interesting to see the feedback from the supporters of this Kickstarter.

This is an exciting time indeed to be a gamer and indeed a teacher as it now means that I and the children I teach can be producers of games as well as consumers. To celebrate this exciting time in gaming I have provided links to a few of the games I like. These are all freeware indie games and can be enjoyed by most, however please check through the games yourself as I haven't completed all of them. Also Slender is definitely not for children, even though I bet many will have played it (the myth has become something of a phenomenon), Click on the images to be directed to the download pages. Enjoy!

Spelunky, a great roguelike game that has been updated for the XBLA. This is the original that has been free for years.

Spelunky, a great roguelike game that has been updated for the XBLA. This is the original that has been free for years.

Love is a game made by one man with a vision. A free MMORPG, this game is a beautiful piece of work.

Love is a game made by one man with a vision. A free MMORPG, this game is a beautiful piece of work.

Slender is an atmospheric game with a simple premise, collect 8 pieces of paper... but this seemingly simple task is harder than it seems. NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNGER PLAYERS.

Slender is an atmospheric game with a simple premise, collect 8 pieces of paper... but this seemingly simple task is harder than it seems. NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNGER PLAYERS.

Cave Story is a masterpiece of design. This is an amazing game in the 'Metroidvania'style (fighting, exploring, upgrading, backtracking, finding new areas etc).

Cave Story is a masterpiece of design. This is an amazing game in the 'Metroidvania'style (fighting, exploring, upgrading, backtracking, finding new areas etc).

Eternal Daughter is a simple action-adventure game reminescent to NES games of old. Enjoy!

Eternal Daughter is a simple action-adventure game reminescent to NES games of old. Enjoy!

La Mulana is a simple exploration game placing you as an Indiana Jones type character... a really wonderful game!

La Mulana is a simple exploration game placing you as an Indiana Jones type character... a really wonderful game!