Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Modern Classics

Every art form has its classics.  Painting has the Mona Lisa.  Literature has things like The Scarlet Letter.  Music has the works of Beethoven and Mozart.  Movies has works like The Shawshank Redemption or Schindler's List.  These are just a few examples.  However, there are more modern classics, such as the work of The Beatles.  The thing about classics is that they are shared with each new generation, ensuring that they live on in our culture.  So here is my question:  What is it to be a classic?  What are the new classics of our time?  What pieces of our culture today are you going to share with your children? What are the video game classics? Yes, that's actually four questions.

Whether or not something is a classic seems to be a function of society.  To be a classic means that society recognizes the work as great.  I needn't be for all of society to recognize it as such, but just for a significant portion of society to do so.  It also takes time for something to become a classic.  Nothing seems to be a classic in its own time.  Something can only become a classic after is has stood the test of time.  Nobody probably thought Super Mario Bros. would be a classic when it came out.  Since then, however, we have seen how it has impacted the design of other games and how its gameplay has remained good. Furthermore, classics seem to give us a window into society and the state of the art form as it was at the time.

One of the things that I will be sure to share with my children is Daft Punk's second album, Discovery.  Not only is Discovery a fantastic album but it was also the very first to really hooked me.  I remember sitting on the floor of a common room while I was at Duke TIP at Kansas University and just zoning out into the music that was playing on a friend's MiniDisc player (lol) while playing Solitaire.  When I returned home from TIP, one of the first things that I did was to buy that album.  It just blew me away.  Discovery is important to me, and that is why I'm going to share it.

I will also encourage my children to read The Hobbit, and if they enjoy that then I will push The Lord of the Rings on them.  I understand that not everybody likes these books, but I did, and I hope they my children will.  Having them read the Harry Potter series is a given.  There are SO many books that I could recommend for them.

I've never been big on movies, but Star Wars comes to mind.  Star Wars has been such a huge fixture in late 1900s early 2000s culture it'd be a sin to skip over it.  I'll have them watch The Brave Little Toaster when they are still young enough to enjoy it (because it's AWESOME).  There are so many other movies that they would need to watch.  Superbad, definitely.  Disney stuff, of course.

There are tons of videogames that I would like for my kids to play, but I don't think I could coerce them to play the numerous platformers that I would want for them to play.  The most important ones I think would be: Super Mario Bros. (they wouldn't have to complete it, it's damn hard), The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Ico or Shadow of the Colossus (preferably both), Earthbound, Katamari Damacy, and many others.  Furthermore, I can use all of my old videogames as a way of saving money by not having to buy the new stuff for my kids.

Passing on our culture to future generations is very important.  It gives our ancestors insight into what it is like to be us, and it gives them perspective about where they and there culture originated.  Classic works of each type serve as an important vehicle for doing this.  However, nobody can set out to create a classic, but everyone can set out to create something great and hope that it will one day be regarded as classic.  What works are important to you?  What will you share with your children?  What works do you hope that they will withstand the test of time and one day become a classic?