For those who think retro gaming (or “old school” gaming) is nothing but an obscure niche, think again. It’s a big business, one that brings in about $200 million annually.
So who’s spending these millions? Is it the same folks who are knee deep in their Xbox Ones and Ps3s? Yes and no. There’s no age limit to become a retro gamer, and you don’t have to pass a test to be a member of the club. But all these folks are part of the same scene. So, in the interests of elucidation, here’s a look at some history and facts regarding how the old-school gaming world came to be, and what qualities a retro gamer possesses.
A matter of time
Considering that the popular home video game consoles started being released in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, it was only a matter of time before the kids who were playing those consoles grew up into adults. And while many of these former kids now focused on adult toys like cars and tech gadgets, there was a bit of residual Peter Pan still lingering, and it just needed a spark to re-ignite the fire.
Modern technology contributed to the rise of retro gaming
If there was a spark of desire in many adults for retro gaming, it seemed to be lying dormant. And while emulators and roms of classic games have existed for some time, it wasn’t until the release of Nintendo’s Virtual Console in 2006 that we had the impetus for the retro-gaming explosion. For the first time masses of gamers had direct access to a huge library of Nintendo’s older titles. Younger gamers got into the act just like their older counterparts, and next thing you knew there were fathers and sons sharing in the simple joys of jumping on a Koopa Troopa in “Super Mario Bros.” or solving puzzles in “The Legend of Zelda.” It wasn’t long before PlayStation and other consoles followed suit and re-released their own retro titles, and a movement was officially born.
It’s involves competitive gaming
It isn’t just home gamers who make up the retro-gaming world; it’s all about the arcades as well. After all, who doesn’t enjoy thinking back to those long afternoons feeding quarters into an SNK or Galaga machine? It was in these arcades where competition was born. And while it’s true that modern competitive gaming can draw millions of viewers to live streams of championship events, classic game festivals are nearly as popular. This plays into the nostalgia factor, and folks drive for miles just to see a couple old-school gamers go head to head on a classic arcade machine. It can even capture the imagination of non-gamers. After all, the 2007 documentary “The King of Kong: A Fistfull of Quarters” crossed over and made fans of the general public. This likely wouldn’t have been the case had the film eschewed a classic Donkey Kong machine for a “League of Legends” tournament.
In the end, the operative word when it comes to retro gaming is nostalgia. The desire to relive the past is what draws many older gamers back to the control pad, and, paradoxically, this same desire brings younger gamers to the table, eager to see what all the fuss was about. The gamers of tomorrow have merged with the gamers of yesteryear to earn the title of “retro gamer” in what is now a multi-million-dollar industry