The original Xbox released on November 15, 2001, and the brand’s come a long way from the bulky, black, and green machines of the early 2000s. Last month, Microsoft celebrated the console’s 20th anniversary with a live broadcast, exclusive merch, and even an interactive online museum.
Yesterday, Microsoft continued to honor the legacy of its two-decade-old line of consoles. Xbox uploaded a heartwarming YouTube video celebrating twenty years of Xbox and four generations of Xbox gamers.
Titled 20 Years of Play, the short video opens with a teenage girl and her father playing Halo: Combat Evolved on the original Xbox in 2001. Then, it jumps forward a few years to a late-night Halo 3 LAN party with the girl and her friends. As the girl grows up, gaming remains an important part of her family’s life. The next scene shows her son playing Minecraft with his grandfather, then skips ahead a few more years to show mother and son playing together on an Xbox One.
Throughout the short video, viewers hear the woman’s recollection of all the great experiences she has and memories she made gaming with friends and family. The final scene brings it full circle with the woman and her father playing Halo Infinite on the Xbox Series S. It ends with her son introducing his grandfather to Cloud Gaming on a mobile device. The final scene also looks ahead with high hopes for Xbox’s next twenty years.
Xbox has a long history of emphasizing the social aspect of gaming. Multiplayer was a significant component of the original Xbox popularity, and there was an entire ad campaign built around the tagline “It’s good to play together.” Yesterday’s one-and-a-half-minute video may come across as a bit sappy for a gaming advert. Still, it succeeds at showing how and why gaming means so much to so many people.
Granted, it is worth remembering that yesterday’s video is still an advertisement at the end of the day. The Xbox Series X, its Design Lab custom controller, and the son’s Razer Kishi Xbox Mobile Gaming Controller get a lot of screentime and visual prominence. They’re definitely more visible on screen than the older generation hardware, which are effectively background details. The more cynical-minded might note that associating Xbox with sentimental memories is excellent for selling Microsoft products.
Still, that’s not to dismiss the emotional attachments many gamers have toward their favorite games. Nor does it mean that bonds formed over gaming are any less meaningful, and it’s good that so many Xbox gamers can relate to the story told by the video. However, it is still worth being mindful of the power of nostalgia.