What Retro Games Mean Today

What’s a retro game today? 8 bit pixellated graphics, chiptunes, simple platformer game mechanics, and charmingly traditional scoring and levelling? If you grew up in the 70s and 80s, that makes plenty of sense. I didn’t – I was born in 1982, so the most memorable games I played usually had at least EGA or VGA graphics with Soundblaster audio.

For an 18 year old growing up in a rich country, though, they’ve had a very different experience.

They were born in 1994; next year, the Playstation would be available worldwide. GoldenEye 007 was on sale on the Nintendo 64 when they were 3 years old, along with Final Fantasy 7 on the Playstation. By the time they were 4, Gran Turismo had sold 10 million copies. The following year, the Dreamcast had launched worldwide with Space Channel 5, Sonic Adventure, and Virtua Fighter 3.

At 6 years old, the Playstation 2 was released in 2000. It’s likely that this, or the cheaper PSOne, was probably their first console. They’ve always had 3D graphics. Grand Theft Auto 3 came out when they were 7 and GTA: San Andreas was out after their tenth birthday. They probably played it, even if they weren’t supposed to. Halo 2 came out in the same year.

The XBox 360 was out when they were 11 years old, along with World of Warcraft. They may not have an iPhone, but the iPod Touch came out in 2007, when they were 13. There’s a good chance they’ve owned one – but maybe they’re still hanging on to the Nintendo DS, which was released a couple of years earlier.

I’m sure they enjoy retro games – 18 year olds play Flash games like everyone else. But that’s not retro for them. Retro is Grand Theft Auto 3, it’s Halo 2, it’s Super Mario Sunshine. Not 8 bit graphics.