Yesterday, a friend of mine on Facebook made this post:
“And while Candy Crush Saga is pretty much retro gaming at this point, what about Angry Birds? I think that already went through a cycle of cool, unpopular, retro cool and obsolete. What is something when it’s too old to be retro? I predict we’ll see an entire segment about Angry Birds on VH1’s ‘I Love 2010’ pretty soon.”
It’s a legitimate question I think we should discuss. Especially in an age where gaming, and especially ‘casual’ gaming (apps and whatnot) are so quickly overlapped by newer, more popular games, what DO we call something when it’s too old to be retro? What IS Angry Birds now? I mean, as far back as I can remember, there has always been (and this list won’t be in the right order, but whatever) a ‘in’ game that the masses played:
- Angry Birds
- Plants Vs Zombies
- Flappy Bird
- Candy Crush Saga
And so on and so forth. I’m certain I’m missing a zillion other games too. See the thing that separates retro gaming on consoles and possibly excludes these more casual games from being considered ‘retro’ at ALL is that consoles have a far longer shelf life. Games on consoles (and some of these more casual games ARE on consoles, which only further muddles the problem) have a period of 10+ years of being playable, and always available to play so long as the console itself works. A game you downloaded, like an app, may only work on your phone AND how many people have the same phone in this day and age for more than 10 years? And what if the game is removed from the app store and you lose it through some weird digital issue? Then it’s just GONE. At least you can still go back to the console stuff. It’s a weird discussion. I think the first thing we need to do is to figure out who qualifies for retro status.
Obviously it’s stuff we find cool now, that we may or may not have found cool then, but enough time has passed to give it this precious dust of nostalgia.Things like Skeletor (or apparently, as Hot Topic-whom we all know is the LORD OF ALL THAT IS COOL IN MIDDLE SCHOOL-is concerned, anything from the fuckin’ 80s), Nickelodeon shows, and my grandma. Especially my grandma, you guys, she is retro as FUCK. She was dead and I brought her back to life!
I think to be retro, the first rule is what I said above, the second is to be something of which enough time has passed. I don’t think Angry Birds is “retro” yet (and frankly I don’t think any of these things ever WILL be ok, let’s get that straightened out right now), because it just hasn’t bee around LONG enough. It’s in sort of a limbo state. We know about it, we know we had an obsession with it, we know we kinda went overboard stalking and taking pictures of it from in the bushes outside its house, and we’re not really ashamed or happy about our interaction with it, but in the end, it’s too “new” to be “retro”. Retro gaming is also a hard thing to nail down, much like the lid on my grandmas coffin, because what’s retro to someone isn’t retro to everyone. Need it simplified:
People hate what you like and you hate what people like.
So what some people consider ‘retro’ in the gaming world is considered fucking garbage by others. Retro is a term used by people who think the games they played as kids were the best games of all time, and they WEREN’T, ok. They weren’t. And I know this because I went back about a year ago and PLAYED those games and HOLY FUCKING SHIT did they suck. But…they sucked for ME. Others may still get enjoyment out of them, and THAT’S what retro is. I think that’s one of the charms about these sorts of games, and games like Minecraft especially, because the aesthetic is something we’re used to from our childhood. They’re drawing back old memories by using old looking graphics and gameplay types that we fondly recall as our favorites, and that’s what drives the force behind these games. That being said, I still wouldn’t consider them retro, and frankly never will. Not necessarily for any other reason than in 10 years I probably won’t care that I played them. Hell, I’m having trouble caring NOW while I’m writing about it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and barricade my door a bit more. My undead grandma is trying to get in to disembowel and then eat my innards. I’ll catch ya guys later, maybe, if I’m alive.
Maggie Wiland is a 25 y/o transgirl. She wanted to do something productive for a living, but has now been resigned to bitching about video games after realizing she is ultimately talentless in every other aspect of her life. She’s also been said to make a mean casserole. She also writes poetry on tumblr.