Do your friends look at you differently once they've seen your stash of old consoles? Are you labelled a weirdo and persecuted for your love of oversized cartridges, wired controllers and systems that, heaven forbid, don't even connect to the Internet? Many a retro gamer has fought such prejudice this and lived to tune another SNES into the TV. But why do retro gamers forsake the norm – online play, FIFA, Call of Duty – in favour of games from our younger years?
“Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, when I was dead broke, man I couldn't picture this”
Biggie Smalls was rapping about the current generation of consoles in 1994, in the song Juicy, but this illustrates my first point nicely. Gaming can be an expensive hobby. The fact is, retro systems are generally cheaper than the latest consoles, and the Internet makes them incredibly easy to find. Everyone loves a bargain, so if you're not fussed about HD visuals and super powered hardware, a Sega Megadrive complete with games for less than £30 delivered is very attractive, especially to someone with fond memories of playing it in their youth. As gamers have grown up and started to earn disposable incomes, all of a sudden the games they couldn't afford as children are available again, at greatly reduced prices. This is the reason I have 13 consoles and piles of games I may never get round to playing. This is the problem with having a cheap hobby... it can be easy to get carried away.
The flipside to growing up and having more money to spend on a hobby such as gaming is that you now have far less free time to devote to it. Gone are the days of getting in from school and playing games until dinner, which you didn’t even have to cook yourself. Now you get in from work late, tired and with a bunch of boring tasks to complete before you can enjoy leisure time. Real life can seriously impede a gamer.
I'm fairly sure my console stockpiling is a subconscious effort on my part to never be bored again. I'll be ready next time I'm sick off work or too hungover to get out of bed. This is acceptable, but when you start calling in sick at work and brushing off your friends in order to play videogames, you may have a problem...
Retro games are so accessible now, it's almost too easy to get hold of them. It literally blows my mind that you can download and play games on a portable telephone. I'm sure I must have inadvertently walked into a DeLorean or crossed the streams or something at some point, because all of a sudden I'm living in Star Trek, where people speak into blueteeth, Walkmen have shrunk (yet somehow contain way more music) and everything is wireless and magical.
Technology is great, but complicated consoles have a knack of creating complications. I know my old brick-shaped Game Boy never Red-Ring-Of-Deathed on me. While it couldn't play DVDs (or actually display games in colour, for that matter), it did withstand many a drop to the floor, and many years of good gaming without dying. So the next time a Sony or Microsoft fanboy turns their nose up at your Dreamcast, explain to them that a game doesn't need the latest graphics or downloadable character costumes to be great. Many games from previous years have yet to be surpassed in terms of quality, and this is why I'll be a generation or two behind for the foreseeable future.
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.