Old games find new fans every day. But how is it different from, say, a fan of old movies? I mean old movies continue being popular for years even giving rise to a classification of being a "classic film." Do retro gamers say anything at all about the medium?
Gaming comes about from a specific technological era much like film. While hard to quantify the shape of the wold at that time for us, it's safe to say Jules Verne's writing gives some indication of the scope people had begun to feel in life, the Spanish American war might be a good tape of how people were dealing with the new interconnectivity, but film making stands out. This time period when World's Fairs were still a thing, created a media that lived long beyond just about any other from the period.
Well, except for automobiles and light bulbs. But newspapers are dead.
Gaming is like film, it's this format that's living long past our age really, as it's likely already outlived a number of people there with the inception of computers being used for games. However, with this rush to advance the medium technologically gaming is creating this new consumer that doesn't always seem to care if a game is good so long as it looks good.
While film making definitely has those people who really do a lot to advance the art form I just can't tell you that Avatar is a good movie. It looks great, but for something like 10+ years spent advancing the technology of the medium they still re-made Dances with Wolves.
But games are constantly re-making themselves. Another FPS, another strategy sim, another space shooter or endless runner, we know these forms, we know what to expect from them and yet it often doesn't feel like James Cameron's Avatar. Metal Gear Solid doesn't really feel like GTA, or Dark Souls for that matter, Far Cry 3 doesn't feel like Quake. Suikoden is not Final Fantasy, Shin Megami Tensei isn't Pokemon.
Deus Ex is not Metal Gear Solid.
To attempt to quash this sameness gaming constantly creates better technology, better visual or tactical experiences to help games stand out. Though this creates a distinction, as we stand just having crossed the threshold to another series of consoles we're reminded how quickly games advance. Though this push in the gaming overculture conceals some basic truths about gaming.
For one it sets up a dichotomy between "gamers" and "retro gamers." People fine with playing games that aren't the newest and bestest. Now, one wouldn't argue that someone who is watching Kurosawa's Seven Samurai or, much more likely about now, A Christmas Story as being fans of older movies. They're just good movies, maybe seasonally so, but they didn't stop being good when Avatar was released.
Unlike cinema gaming isn't a passive media. Though some of us might look as zoned out at times it is at its heart a very active medium. Players drive the game forward, they experience what the designers created, and come to their own conclusions to finish the experience. Someone playing older games might also be misclassified like a cinephile, those fans of movies, and maybe some correlation might be made between these two species but cinephiles have existed for years and years at this point-they're already considered a part of the medium.
While retro and older game fans are definitely a part of gaming developing a core audience of people who both know and love the medium and it's history they exist because a basic truth: good games are good.
While some types of games have attempted to hide their simplistic roots(others mercilessly simplifying and shaving down all their rough edges) what makes a game good 20 years from now, or what made a game good 20 years ago, are going to make a game good now. These pieces of code that are masterfully crafted to give everyone a chance to have this experience. While not quite as populist or democratic as cinema it doesn't need to be.
Gaming hasn't always been part of a push to take over everyone's daily habits. Microsoft's recent Xbox One system release saw a console crafted to pull gaming away from fringes even more by making it on par with TV, movies and music. Not just a device that has those things ancillary to it's function but, as far as I can puzzle out, a statement that(at least for the American consumer) games are like film: this American past time and gaming are a part of this same living room space. Not your man cave, not on a desk in your study.
I don't think that's the case. Games don't need to ape film, they don't work in quite the same way and yet if I say that I think they're in some way distinct from droning out to Survivor on the couch I almost feel like I'm making them out to be dangerous. An activity pulling you away from the monoculture, its weird.
The more I think about this stuff I wonder if our thoughts on gaming are, in 20 years time, just going to be seen as misconceptions? If everyone is going to spend 20 minutes checking into their Animal Crossing town before work, or watch Halo tournaments like Nascar. Whatever gamings place is going to be in this larger construct I think retro gamers prove that these experiences are powerful, and that here is something bigger going on. Seriously, great games stay great, and I wonder if we would see people playing some of our favorite games 400 years from now, like we see Shakespeare's plays performed?