Tuesday, 6 May 2014

What is 'Retro' ?

Its official, our nerdy little sub-culture has become mainstream with large events such as the Play Expo in Blackpool and even Tesco's selling T-shirts with a Retro-gamer focus.

I am all for the growth and diversification of a sub-culture as it tends to bring more talented people or companies to the public eye - but one thing that has stuck in my craw is that I am now labelled by the media as a 'Retro-gamer' - admittedly having a blog called 'Retro Game Punk' doesn't help much...

If I am to wear the title of a #retrogamer I need to understand its meaning to both myself and to the masses, and at first this seems straight forward because its all there in the title but I don't think it really fits... as I will explain in ever so boring subtitles.

Is it 'Retro' to collect old game & consoles?

Well, no, not really... Comicbook collectors don't call themselves 'Retro-graphic-novelers'. Everything ages and becomes obsolete, movies, music and every other consumable media. We don't collect old things for the sake of it, we accumulate favoured experiences - I have the Alien Quadrilogy on Blu-Ray because they are good films, not because they are old films. We all buy into things we love for that very reason, age doesn't actually matter too much.

Is it 'Retro' to only play old games?

Yet again, we all consume various media and accumulate favourite examples in our homes and to believe that a 'Retro-gamer' only plays old games is stupid. Everyone will gravitate to an experience that excites them, that's why most gamers have current consoles - because new experiences are still inviting and fun. I have more old games than new ones because I get a buzz out of playing something I previously enjoyed or missed, but that doesn't mean I don't have 400 games on my Steam account [I most certainly do!]. No one plays old games 100% exclusively, and if they do they are most likely living in the past and completely not open to opinion or new experience and do not represent the bulk of the sub-culture.

What is 'Retro' ? [and does it have a cut off date?]

The meat of the whole thing comes down to this one stupid question, and it has caused more arguments and fractured opinions than anything else in the sub-culture.

If we go by the literal meaning it means 'old' or 'backwards', this is were most arguments happen and it possibly is they hardest thing to disassemble as a concept.

Are we to understand the Wii is 'Retro' because it is no longer manufactured? Seems a bit weird to me as the games are still being made, and are in fact compatible with the latest offering, the Wii-U... and...

If the Wii isn't considered 'Retro' because we still play the discs in our modern hardware - what about the Sony Playstation? The discs are no longer produced but still work on the PS3 and the games still available to buy on PSN... and...

What about the N64? That came out in the same console generation as the Playstation - so if the Playstation isn't 'Retro' can the N64 be considered it? You can't put the old cartridges in the new systems, but a few of the games still are available on the Wii's marketplace... and..

If the N64 is not infact 'Retro' due the games still being able to purchase in digital format then the NES, SNES, MEGADRIVE and various other cartridge based systems that still have their games available on new systems are not in-fact 'Retro' as they are still a commercially profitable and available commodity.

... So nothing is 'Retro' then? 

If you managed to follow all that waffle I imagine your probably chuckling to yourself because you've guessed the punchline. The whole argument the term as a singular definition is flawed and nearly impossible to lock down into a singular umbrella that we can put over our dorky little heads.

Here is my best attempt to summarize before you all fall into a deep coma from boredom...

'Retro' by our subcultures understanding is someone who knows about, understands or accumulates video-games regardless of popularity or age for their own personal enjoyment in whatever capacity it may be. It is a shorthand for gamers or collectors to associate with each other with minimal explanation. This is why my site has 'Retro' in its title and not 'guy who tends to play on his Megadrive more than his PS3'.

It does not implicitly specify how old something has to be - simply the fact you enjoy it regardless.

'Retro' by the outsiders definition is a demographic more likely to buy things that look or remind nerdy adults of something they once knew. It is a sales tactic designed to make you associate with a niche and buy into product.

What do you guys think? am I off the mark here or am I really giving this too much thought?

...No... I am in-fact 100% correct...


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