I Live. I Die. I Live Again: Retro Gaming Culture and Why it’s Here to Stay

Like many of you I’m a big retro video game fan. 8 & 16 bit games and all the things that surround them are my happy place. My warm and fuzzy feeling. My blanket and hot coco.  Show me a Nintendo Power cover from 1991 or whistle the theme from Mega Man 2 and you might just hear me give an audible sigh of zen like calm.  Putting all these feelings aside I think retro video games are here to stay. To better clarify, I think the idea of retro video games will out live the generation that grew up with them. Retro gaming culture is now part of the pop culture vernacular, and here is why I think that.
Have you seen the kids today? They think retro is cool and I’m betting many of them haven’t ever played an NES! So …what’s up with that, right?  From kids, teens, to college age boys and girls there is a love for retro gaming culture that has little ties to the source material other than a ripple of an echo of murmur of an old man saying, “It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this.”
  Retro NES Ad
Yes there is a generation of kids today that have parents, older siblings, or other close influential roles in their lives that did grow up with retro gaming. Be it Atari, Nintendo, Sega, or just living in bowling alley arcades plugging in quarter after quarter in a Zaxxon cabinet. With Gen X and Y (insert Pokemon joke here) coming into the age of influence and many of them never really wanting to grow up, the seeds of retro gaming culture were spread far beyond just their childhood living rooms.
Retro gaming culture reaches beyond just playing games. My daughter loves Zelda but has barely played any of the games. Love the music, watching walkthrough videos, the characters, the cosplay, the fan art, etc. The feeling of playing the games has now extended past their plastic cartridge casings and into the emotional tethers of people’s lives. Like feeling nostalgic for something you never experienced.
EDM music has influence from retro game music, a.k.a. chip tunes. Chip tunes is a genre of music for christ’s sake! It’s not just seen as some creepy calliope music from some bygone area. The beeps and boops that made games like Contra, Super Mario World, and Ducktales so great have built a new part of the music industry. The music from the stage select menu of Japanese-only mahjong Game Boy game has influenced the quarterly sales of iTunes globally.
Chiptune-Setup-Game-Boys - small
The expansion of the virtual console will keep these games, and with it the culture, around for much longer than they were expected too. Before you had to wait for a ‘gaming classics’ re-release port for PS1 or someone to remake Oregon Trail for Windows 95. Now games that voted for President Carter and lived through slap bracelets can be downloaded to your phone for 99 cents.
Museums! Video games are now in museums. I thought it was crazy when Luke’s X-wing was put in the Smithsonian but now we are seeing rare vintage game consoles and peripherals behind display glass as well. There is even a History of Video Games Museum opening later this year (less than an hour from my house #happydance)! Some day a confused child might ask, “Is that Samus?” when looking at the Mona Lisa.
Power glove Indiana
8 & 16-bit designs. This is a style of art that has caught on quickly with pop culture fans. Not sure if pearler beads were the reason this tread started off so strong but its all over ever Artists Alley at conventions nationwide. From tiny keychain Dragon Balls to 4 foot tall Final Fantasy final bosses.
pearler beads
Like fashion, music, and all styles; things come in popularity and then fall out of popularity. Only to be popular again further down the road. Retro gaming culture is now part of that fly wheel. When it drops out of favor with this generation another further down the road will pick it back up. Who knows, maybe your great grand kids will walk up to one day and tell you about this new hot game called ‘Super Mario Bros’.