Retro gaming is defined as the playing and collecting of older computer, console and arcade
video games that are discontinued and often considered obsolete in our ever advancing society. To
many of us, it has always been much more than just a hobby. Many retro games are more than just ways
to have fun; they hold sentimental value to us. It’s not about being stubborn and set in our ways against
newer more intricate games and designs, but rather our appreciation of a simpler time that required
less prep work and add on features and more of just good old fashioned gaming. It’s simpler to define
what we consider retro gaming because it just requires us to look into our collection for the game
cartridges. These removable enclosures carrying read-only data for us to load on our consoles are harder
to come by now, so the act of hunting them down for our personal collections is a way that many retro
gamers keep them relevant.
It’s easy to define any old NES, Genesis and even Atari games as retro, but does that spot belong
to these older generation games exclusively? Or can they be dethroned as the years go on by the newer
more powerful games of old such as the Nintendo Gamecube, Playstation or original Xbox? What exactly
will be defined as “retro” after 30 years?
It’s very possible that by the time we have aged 30 or so years, our ideas of “retro” anything will
have drastically changed. We may consider boy bands, classic music and hip hop the soundtrack of
yesteryear. But what will become of our games? Wanting to play something retro can simply be booting
up the old Xbox one last time to experience Halo for the first time in decades or even dusting off the
Gamecube to knock each other around in Super Smash Bros. Melee. The truth is that we hold onto that
which we hold true to our heart from our earlier years. As an example, were the 90's really even that
amazing or do we just fool ourselves into believing that because it was all we knew growing up?
The first and probably most obvious scenario considers Generation Y sticking to our games
growing up, which for my age group includes a time where we were old enough to fully appreciate the
start of disc drive games and the late end of the ROM based games of the Nintendo 64. Will we simply
ignore the previous generations in favor of our personal childhood memories? Or will we stick true to
the roots if we dare call ourselves gamers?
Along with time comes the inevitable “death” of our cartridges. It would be hard to deny that
one day our cartridge based games will just refuse to work and the pins will physically wear out. The
years of pulling on the games and more specifically the blowing into the carts will eventually lead to the
deterioration of our favorite games. Will this further solidify the fact that as we get older, we will
appreciate these games less simply because we cannot play them as they once were?
While some of this may seem depressing, I like to think more on the positive
side. As long as there are people around that fondly remember such classics as Super Mario Brothers,
Earthworm Jim and even the horrible E.T. game on the Atari, these retro games will live on. This isn’t
just because we breathe life into them (but seriously don’t blow into your carts) and allow them to
flourish, but also because we have future generations to share these games with. This is how we keep
them going; this is how we further stretch their limited lifespan. Otherwise, why did we collect so many
of these games in the first place?