When I was growing up, playground wars over your computer/console of choice was a defining feature of your life – a trend which continues to this day. Whilst we all love gaming, we do tend to identify with a particular machine and have a strong (often lasting) loyalty to that system, almost to the exclusion of anything else.
In the 1980s, you were either Commodore or Spectrum. The only time the two sides joined forces was to laugh at the poor Amstrad owners.
In the 1990s, it was Amiga vs. Atari on the computer side or Sega vs. Nintendo in the console wars. Now it’s Playstation vs. Xbox.
Whichever side you sit on, you are absolutely convinced of the rightness of your cause. I was always firmly in the Commodore camp, starting out with a C64 before progressing to an Amiga. The Spectrum was clearly a vastly inferior machine and anyone who owned one only did so because they couldn’t afford a C64. Such was the logic of my 13 year old mind.
With hindsight, of course, I recognise that this was a very simplistic view and my fierce loyalty was misplaced. Whilst there’s no disputing that it was technically inferior, the Spectrum had some fantastic titles that were sometimes better than their Commodore counterparts (as Soosh recently reminded us, Chase HQ is a clear example of this: the C64 version is an abomination, the Spectrum version was excellent).
Recalling these playground wars, I started to wonder whether they still go on in a retro sense. Do people who grew up in the 8 bit era look down on those raised during the 16 bit age or consider PS1 fans to be upstarts who wouldn’t know a retro game if it came up and bit them? Do N64 owners consider 8 bit gamers to be crusty old fossils who think that primitive graphics and sound somehow make a game great? In short, as retro gamers do we present a united front, or are we still divided by those petty loyalties of the past?
I don’t know the answer to this question, and I’m not even entirely sure it matters. Like I said when I started this blog, I tend to have a pretty broad definition of what constitutes a “retro game” and am happy to consider anything from the 70s right up to the PS2/Gamecube as retro. Whilst the C64 will always remain my first love, I no longer feel I have to be loyal to it to the exclusion of everything else.
It’s inevitable that we will continue to identify with the machines we owned as a kid, because they (hopefully) bring back happy memories, but at the end of the day, a good game is a good game regardless of the system it appears on. I can now have a greater objectivity and appreciate the strengths of other systems and, of course, thanks to the wonders of emulation, I can also play on them.
Retro Gamers of the World Unite! You have nothing to lose but your blinkered loyalty to outdated systems!