The Nostalgia Experiment -- When Bias is Right
Updated: Sep 15
For the sake of writing this article, I have conducted a specific experiment on myself. The purpose of that experiment was to try and see, whether the things I look at, with great nostalgia, are actually as enjoyable as I've seen them to be, long after I had them in my possession.
In other words, I wanted to better understand a specific bias, the nostalgia bias, which looks at things as better than they actually were, just because of positive, past experience. These are my findings and my insights on them.
I have not played competently a certain console, the PS2, for more than a decade, until I have recently received one as a birthday gift, by request. Looking back at certain video games, they were indeed flawed, but according to critics, they were judged as more flawed than they were seen in my eyes.
Their criticisms were surely surprising, given how much I enjoyed these games as a child. In fact, if I did not learn English by myself, I might as well would not have been aware of these harsh criticisms, and instead, would view said games, in a brighter judgement.
Then I thought to myself, what if they were wrong, and what if my own nostalgia bias is correct? What if these games are not as bad as I once thought?
The strange thing is, that in comparison, the more-modern games are better than these older games, in quite a lot of ways, actually. However, despite their superiority, I did not have the same enjoyment, as I had when playing the more-retro games, both as a child and as of recently.
I have no logical explanation of this, as the common argument is, that the better a game is, the more enjoyable it is. Nonetheless, it's not in my case, and not in the case of the family member who bought the console to me as a gift.
As for the console's old games themselves, I was also surprised to find out that I still enjoy them, even if not like I used to back in my childhood, two decades ago. Perhaps my nostalgia bias, was indeed correct partially, when it judged the older games, to be more enjoyable, even though they were inferior in almost every way.
I can definitely understand the judgement about something being primitive, as being bad, as well. However, it was fun finding out how this judgement might as well be a generalizing fallacy. Why? Because, at least when it comes to games, there are things that can be far more enjoyable, than their more-modern counterparts, even when said counterparts, are objectively better.
Bias, while judging things in a disproportionate way, could still be correct in its view. I am aware that I am biased in this niche, because these are games that I grew up with. However! I had no idea that my biased approach to them, would be correct.
A good philosopher will try reducing their bias through things and beings, in order to see the whole picture, and in order to better find the truth. Unfortunately, at least by this experiment findings, maybe one's existing bias, isn't irrational entirely, is it?
If my specific bias was incorrect, then I would feel playing these various older games, just like when playing any other game. I am still unaware as to why my biased perspective was correct, as the whole "idea behind" bias, is that it does not see reality as it is.
I am not entirely certain if this is only a subjective notion. I was hoping to surpass delusion, only to find out that this "delusion" was correct, and not something which was a product of bias. I mean, even the console itself is less stable than contemporary ones.
For some reason, this objective flaw, where I experienced it too recently, isn't that severe at all! It is part of the "experience", I guess. Contemporary games feel more like doing a job, a task; It's like they have little to no "soul" to it, despite their better complexity. Older games, even if they are primitive and far simpler, just "feel" different -- more fun, more entertaining and so on.
As for why my bias was right, and as of why some primitivity can give us more benefit than otherwise sometimes, I am not certain of, yet.