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Retro Recollection: A Short Rumination On Retro Gaming
Though there are many spectrums of gaming and many genres within those spectrums, my favorite is most definitely retro. I know that has different connotations depending on who you are and how old you might be, but for me that spans from Playstation 2/Gamecube/Xbox era and backwards.
My favorite of all the consoles is and always has been split down the middle between Playstation 1 and Nintendo 64. Through my youth, I flipped between the PS1 and the N64 on a weekly basis. I could never make up my mind. The choice of games on each console varied so much that I felt I had to switch to get the full generation’s experience.
Retro gaming has always had a place in my heart, no matter how much older I get. The consoles of today will one day slip into the aged category too, but still will not replace what I today see as retro. The PS4 and Xbox One are the consoles of my adulthood, and playing them can’t transport me back to the late 90’s on a wave of nostalgia. Not like my Nintendo 64 can.
Retro is not just a subcategory of gaming. Retro is not just old games played in a modern era. Retro isn’t even an eccentric, nostalgic fan base. In many ways, retro gaming is a way of life– a highly specific, highly personal experience that is altogether different than gaming as an adult. Everything is different– the vibe, the aura, if you will –playing retro games allows you to regain your youth and re-connect to parts of your past you thought long gone.
Retro gaming is not just my biggest interest, but my biggest inspiration. Unpacking that feeling I get when I boot up an old copy of Ape Escape is my sole inspiration to pursue journalism. I want to understand that sensation and get it down on paper so I can share it with the whole world.
The meaning of retro, by its very nature, changes every few years and every few generations of gamers. The meaning of ”retro” will remain the same with the newer generation as it means to me and even more so to the generation of gamers before me. I am fully aware of what I class as retro is what a gamer of the generation before me would class as modern and high tech. This realization is what leads me to classify retro gaming as more of a feeling, rather than a precise genre of gaming.
Retro gaming to me is not just old games from a time gone by. Retro gaming is a feeling of youthfulness and nostalgia, something that can bring out my inner child, they allow me to act exactly as I was when I was in the height of my youth. My friends have a very similar connection to retro gaming as I do. This is one of the biggest reasons they are my friends. We have a connection created through our mutual enjoyment of the same video games. My best friend in high school was someone I had grown up with, played video games with, and evolved with. We leveled up together. He was my healer both literally and figuratively– my “player 2,” my stalwart friend, companion, partner through the trials of both life and gaming. These days, that job falls to my wife.
Retro gaming and retro anything has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years, generating its own fan following. This following is comprised of people a lot like myself. The most recent trend in independent game design is indeed retro. This includes 8 and 16-bit graphics, the rebirth of dead genres like CRPGs and space flight simulators.
What will the definition of retro will be during the next generation of gaming? What my children will decide is retro will presumably floor me. That’s the best thing about gaming: retro is truly not just old games and consoles of someone’s youth, but time machines that allow people to chase the innocence and bliss of childhood.