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Retro Gaming? “What choo talkin’ bout Willis…?”
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Post Retro Gaming? “What choo talkin’ bout Willis…?” 
I was recently perusing the Retronauts section of 1UP’s website (for the record, not impressed). As I was reading the articles, I kept coming back to the same question-

What the heck is retro gaming?

My definition of retro gaming is definitely different than Jeremy’s. 90% of the games that he was featuring were not what I would define as retro games (in my humble opinion). What single feature or quality deems a game ‘retro’? Is there a prerequisite that determines whether a game is or is not labeled as such? Is there a specific time period that is generally assumed by everyone as the retro era? Does a specific amount of time have to pass before something can be coined retro? Or, can a game like Halo 2 (circa 2004) legally be considered retro since it was released years ago? Thus it’s old (in gaming terms anyway). What’s going on here?

These were the questions that were popping up in my head. So I started on my quest to find out. I began at one of my favorite spots, Wikipedia:

Wikipedia: Retrogaming
The retrogaming hobby appears to have arisen from two sources. The first is that the current middle-aged generation was one of the first to experience computer games during their childhood or young adulthood, and thus those games have become a form of nostalgia for these individuals. It has also - as with indie gaming - been bolstered by a backlash against developments in the modern video game industry, where the rising cost of game development - often as a result of the requirement to meet rising consumer expectations of graphics - has led to extreme reluctance to publish original titles, a focus on design by committee, and a tilting of the primary focus of game design from game play engineering to graphic design.

Most popular retro games are those produced around the 1980s, and include games for the Commodore 64, ZX81. ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, and the Nintendo Entertainment System.


I fit into this category and generally identify retro games as those produced for some of the first consoles & computers (I.e.. Atari, Apple, Commodore & IBM). Retro to me, is defined as games & gaming systems produced in the late 70’s through the 80’s. After scouring the Net and other periodicals, the definition however is open to debate. Take my son for example. He is 15 years young. When asked what games he considered retro, he replied with PS One games, Unreal Tournament, Quake & Alien vs. Predator 2.

Clearly confused now, I head over to dictionary.com where I found this -

Ret-ro-spect  - [re-truh-spekt]
–noun
1. Contemplation of the past; a survey of past time, events, etc.
–verb (used without object)
2. To look back in thought; refer back: to retrospect to a period in one's youth.
–verb (used with object)
3. To look back upon; contemplate retrospectively.
—Idiom
4. In retrospect, in looking back on past events; upon reflection: It was, in retrospect, the happiest day of her life.

Okay. That didn’t help either. Page after page, website after website, I was met with the same gray area. If you were talking about clothes, retro generally referred to 60’s & 70’s fasions. Retro cars generally referred to the 50’s (ala’ 57 Chevy). Games & gaming systems seem to be much more fuzzy. There is no specific time period (most likely because of the infancy of computer gaming). There are nostalgia buffs in my age range that view Atari & Commodore as retro. Then there are those a bit younger that view Nintendo, SEGA as retro (although the NES can fall into both categories). Then the much younger generation that see Sony, Nintendo & Microsoft as retro.

What to do, what to do….

To make a long story short, I ended my quest with the notion that there technically is no definition of retro and the term is clearly relative. Retro is most likely such a broad term that it can't be relegated to define a specific point in time. What a pity. It’s still a jumbled mess in my mind. I almost want to say that the term 'retro' is not correct or it's incomplete. It clearly has no definition.

What do you think?


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i love 007 goldeneye for N64 so much


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Post Re: Retro Gaming? “What choo talkin’ bout Willis…?” 
iamsjn wrote:

To make a long story short, I ended my quest with the notion that there technically is no definition of retro and the term is clearly relative. Retro is most likely such a broad term that it can't be relegated to define a specific point in time. What a pity. It’s still a jumbled mess in my mind. I almost want to say that the term 'retro' is not correct or it's incomplete. It clearly has no definition.

What do you think?


Awesome post!

I think you nailed it actually. Retro is a relative thing based on each person. I wish there were a more concrete definition as well, but I don't think there can be. To me, retro is anything that is no longer main-stream. However, I think retro in terms of consoles must be at least 2 generations back. Therefore, Xbox and PS2 can't really be retro. But, I do consider PS1 as being retro now that we are seeing the next gen consoles coming out (PS3, 360, and Wii).

For me personally, my greatest retro memories come from the arcades, computers, and game consoles from the early 80's. I do also have very strong feelings about the NES and SNES as they really brought me back into gaming.

--Raz.

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agreed...persoanlly for me anything from the n64 era back is retro..the first cd based systems (with the exception of the mega cd[oh i guess segacd considering where you are])
are what i would consider classic

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