Yes, games used to exist on a different learning curve than they do now. And sometimes, when we might backtrack to an older favorite like Parappa the Rapper, we might have a a hard time getting back in the groove of a forgotten, unforgiving skill set.
But over at Edge, Dewi Tanner explains that actually, modern TVs are part of the problem. The typical newer HDTV set has a high enough latency to interfere with precision gaming, Tanner explains. And although players and games may bear part of the burden, for certain kinds of rhythm action, the lag makes a difference:
Sadly, the majority of customers will never read this guide, or even realise that their TV has lag issues in the first place. For this reason the game tends to get the blame when the player feels that they are being punished unfairly by the game despite seeming to play correctly. This forces them to either mentally adjust their timings or to abandon the game entirely. Guitar Hero and Rock Band tried to sidestep the problem by offering calibration options and tutorials, but this doesn't solve the problem. It merely makes the game more forgiving; a dirty hack in a genre which prizes purity.
According to Tanner, other popular newer technologies, like the Kinect and the kind of touch screens used in many portable devices, are even worse. Was, as Tanner asserts, the PlayStation 2 the last truly responsive era of gaming? Presumably, existing technologies will continue to improve and bring down their latency and response times.
But for now? Next time your friends make fun of your timing, feel free to blame your TV.