Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Too Old For Retro?

So, I was walking along the other day, as I often am, when I went past a retirement home. Peering momentarily through the window revealed a sight familiar at many such establishments - a variety of old people sitting in big comfy chairs watching whatever nonsensical bullcrap happens to be on the television at the time which may or may not be numbing them to all of life's ills and easing their passage out of our world, or possibly even compelling them to hasten their departures.

An old person...
Nothing unusual there I agree but it did remind me of a discussion I once had with my best buddy Luke. He postulated, and I agreed, that the world of video games, even just the ones we would call 'retro' nowadays, contains so many titles that, short of winning the lottery or something else equally improbable, we simply won't have time to play most of them, perhaps ever. There might be one golden opportunity to do so, however, and that is when we retire. At the time we had the conversation, Luke and I were confident that we would still be very much into retro gaming by the time we reach our retirement age, which is likely to be around the 70 mark by then, and that we would relish the opportunity to spend our days catching up on old classics, but my recent epiphany while out walking made me question that. I mean, will we really still care about playing old games then? We will be getting on for the year 2045 by then and who knows what wonders may be around?

There might be medical technology to prolong/restore our youth, or we might have Star Trek style holodecks which would surely occupy a lot of time. We could be friends with aliens who have shown us all manner of wonders, or perhaps we will have been enslaved by some for being the dicks we surely will be when we meet extra-terrestrials for the first time. We might've even destroyed ourselves by then, and the way we're going I really wouldn't be surprised by that outcome. But if we live long enough, and if it's realistic, would we be suitably motivated to spend our remaining days in front of old game consoles and clacky computers, or do we face the same fate as the old people I walked past recently?

A video game (a rather splendid one, no less)...
It's impossible to know really. If I think about it now, the answer would surely be yes. I can't begin to imagine how many games are on my 'to play' list by now. Many have been put off and put off since their original releases. Titles such as the legendary Elite spring to mind. Great games where the prospect of playing seems too daunting without knowing I have enough time to dedicate to them. I have a strong interest in spacey sci-fi exploration type games (also know as '4x' games) - my favourite game of all time is one of these - but I have actually played very few of the many superb examples that have been knocking around for lord knows how long. When I think about how many awesome (looking) indie games of this type you can now find on Steam, it seems even more daunting. This applies to more or less all RPG's ever made too. So many of them, particularly the SNES-style ones, look so wonderful to me, but when I think about playing one I usually feel overwhelmed immediately as I know too well what will happen.

I'm pretty sure I'll get suckered into their uniquely appealing worlds and I just know how much time they will take up. I can count on the fingers of one hand how many I've actually gotten around to playing properly and that makes me a sad panda. That's just the ones I know about too! If running this blog has taught me anything it's that there are also a crapload of fantastic games I've never seen, heard of, or know anything about. There are still tons of classics from all genres I haven't played yet, and that's without even thinking about the masses of modern-ish games - there are so many great looking adventures from the PS2/Xbox/GC era onwards that I've barely glanced in the direction of. I even own a load of them!

Grandpa knows how to shred on his axe...
There are other potential problems too, besides the small matter of Earth's possible annihilation. If you want to play genuine games on their respective systems it is likely to be an unrealistic endeavour. I suspect some forms of digital media like cassettes and 'floppy' discs are very likely to be largely unusable by then. The same could probably be said of a large amount of cartridges and optical discs. There probably won't be too many left by then anyway, once you factor in loss and damage as well, so acquiring working ones is likely to be a costly pursuit - very very costly, in fact, if the rising prices today are any indication. The same could be said of the computers and consoles themselves. Working examples of systems common today could be worth a fortune! That will limit most old codgers to playing via emulation, but for many gamers today this just isn't the same. For some it's simply unacceptable.

So, assuming we're still alive, still motivated, and rich enough to own some of the world's dwindling supply of originals or don't mind emulation, it's feasible to use our retirement as a 'catch up' period, or alternatively a 'last chance to play before you die' period. To say there are enough games to keep me busy long into retirement is putting it very mildly indeed, and the thought of having all that time to dedicate to such a goal is a mighty appealing one. But again, we may well feel differently in thirty years time, so perhaps I should be asking a different question; the one this feature is named after in fact - do you think you'll ever get too old for retro?

It's actually an interesting point to consider, I think. Most of us who grew up on the 8-bit machines in the early-to-mid-80's can unquestionably be classed as middle-aged now. Do you think there will come a point where you lose interest in the retro scene? Will you finally 'grow up' and accept that the golden age of gaming is over, and that no amount of denial or rose-tinted specs will bring them back? I suppose for many of us, retro is life and will always be with us in one form or another, but what about the rest? Will you ever be too old for retro?

1 comment:

  1. "Retro is only fof us, young men and women who are into popular things" and other retarded things sais by people who don't know anything but they like to talk stuff and be popular.