What is Retro Gaming About?

Retro gaming is currently going through a big revival. There are many reasons that could explain why this is happening. People don’t really think of older games from the 8-bit and 16-bit as being “obsolete” anymore, but rather a product of their time and place. Playing a retro game is more like listening to classical music than trying on stupid fashions that didn’t survive past their decade.

There are also now new games coming out that are by choice made in the same style as retro games, so a new generation of gamers has become more accepting and appreciative of the simpler graphics of those eras.

I assume that if you are on my site you are probably someone who has noticed the growing mainstream appeal of retro gaming and are thinking of getting into it yourself. The thing is that getting into retro gaming is not something you should do just because it’s popular right now. In this article I’ll try to explain what exactly it is that draws people to this hobby. If any of those reasons sound appealing to you, this may be your next hobby.

Appreciation Day

Most retro gamers are also serious gamers that play all the latest titles. Many serious gamers also have an interest in games that goes beyond the pleasure of just playing them. We care about how they are made, how they are designed, and many other aspects that go into the final game.

In order to understand games as they are today, we have to understand the history of these games. The great thing about that is that we aren’t limited to just reading about old games; we can play them firsthand through various means. This is important because you can’t really understand what’s really great about a given video game unless you actually play it.

This is true in other hobbies as well, but in practice very few people will ever get to drive the classic cars they read about, for example. Retro gaming can become an expensive hobby, depending on exactly how you choose to get your kicks, but it’s also perfectly possible to go about it in an affordable way.

Preservation Society

Another aspect of the retro gaming comes down to pure collecting pleasure. We humans like to collect things, categorize them, and keep them. Our collections give us pleasure, even if many of the games in them may only be played once or twice.

Retro games are great to collect and can even be a really good investment if you have an eye for future classics. Some very rare original game media has been auctioned.

For example, the ultra-rare NES game Stadium Events has sold at auction for an incredible $41,300. A used copy went for $35,100. Obviously these are some exceptional sales, but it’s the thrill that the next old box you sift through could have rare treasure in it that keeps a lot of people hooked.

It’s also very important that there are active and dedicated collectors. It helps to preserve the history of video games for future generations. Sure, there are many single copies of gaming artifacts in places like the Smithsonian, but I still think private collectors perform a very important preservation function.

Special Snowflake

The other (rather obvious) reason people are into retro gaming is because so many of these games are incredibly good in a way that few, if any, modern games are. The markets and game industries of those days were very different from today; there was a lot of creativity and risk-taking the big game studios can’t afford anymore.

Playing some of these old games is like going back and watching Back to the Future or Jurassic Park. They are games that really can’t be made anymore and are attached to a particular time and place. Yet if you have them you can still experience the magic of these games whenever you want.

Playing retro games also reminds us of what it is that makes a game great before all the marketing fluff and executive interference comes into play.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a LOT of junk in retro libraries, maybe more than today, but decades of hindsight have sifted out the masterpieces from the trash and it’s those we can now appreciate.

Retro games also often present us with unapologetic challenge. Since gaming is now such a mainstream pastime and people have access to so many of them, modern games really aren’t as challenging. That’s not a bad thing, but for gamers that really do enjoy video games as a test of skill, you need to look pretty hard to find modern games that scratch that itch. Games like Mega Man and The Legend of Zelda – heck, even Super Mario – did not hold your hand. You were either good enough to win or not. These sorts of pure experiences also draw people to retro gaming.


For many of us there is obviously an element of nostalgia to the whole retro gaming thing too. Video games from our childhood are linked to the good times. In addition to this, there were also many games we missed out on when we were younger. Many of us had to pick between Nintendo or Sega, so there were some games that we just never got to play. Even on platforms that you had, games were super expensive and everybody has a long list of things they wanted to play but never could. Getting into retro gaming as an adult also affords you the chance to go back and play the games that you missed out on. Whether they turn out as good as you remember is a different story altogether.

Social Butterfly

The last reason it’s worth getting into the retro gaming hobby is that it’s a very social hobby. There are lots of communities, online forums, and events where you can meet other people, trade games, and just generally have a good time. That’s not something you’ll find as often in stamp collecting.

The retro gaming hobby has a lot going for it, and if you think you’ll like any of these aspects of the hobby then now is the perfect time to get your feet wet.