I'm not a retro gamer

by Paul Morrison


I don't know about you, but I have a Twitter account (@TheyWereOurGods) and I regularly keep it open in a tab so I can see what's going on in the parts of the world (not geographical) that I choose to be connected to.  It's great... you can find out some cool stuff, and I've made some great contacts there.

One thing that crops up regularly is the topic of retro games.  There's all kinds of discussion on retro games, and retro gaming, and I've never really given it a second thought until now.  However, I've suddenly found myself wondering: why do we talk about retro gaming? 

For some reason, this makes me want to watch the Knightmare TV show. 

For some reason, this makes me want to watch the Knightmare TV show. 

I don't mean old games themselves, I mean, why do we use the term "retro gaming"?  You don't watch retro movies or read retro books or listen to retro music, do you?  So why should games be any different?  Isn't a game... a game?

Let me briefly expand on that a little, to show you how daft it sounds.  Let's say you fancy spending your Saturday watching the Star Wars trilogy.  Your mate phones up to see if you fancy going to the pub.  Would you tell him "No thanks, I'm doing some retro film watching"?  Of course not.  You'd say "Nah, sorry mate, I'm watching Star Wars all afternoon.  Do you fancy bringing a few beers around?"

It's almost as if there's still some kind of shame or embarrassment around playing games.   I do sense that that is being slowly stripped away as gaming becomes more and more the norm, but it only seems to be socially acceptable to say you're playing GTA or CoD, or if you're playing an old game and want to shout it to the world it has to be Earthbound or some other "cool" SNES game, otherwise many people will question your sanity.

 Classic gaming. Yet not all old games are classic (although this one is).

 Classic gaming. Yet not all old games are classic (although this one is).

I don't quite get that, but hopefully the stigma will be completely erased and we will all be able to talk about games in exactly the same sense that we talk about films, music and books - merely as another entertainment medium to be enjoyed, no matter how old the game you're enjoying.

I don't mind the term per se.  It has its uses, for instance, Retro Gamer magazine uses it as a handy label that instantly lets you know they don't cover current games. But otherwise, I don't really see why there's a need for any distinction. I am not a retro gamer. I am a gamer.  I just happen to be spending a lot of my time playing older games, and I'm perfectly happy to share that.