About a month ago a PC-geek friend of mine told me that a younger relative, (around ten or eleven years old,) had no idea what a floppy disk was. My friend had found a couple disks of various size and flop-ability while he was cleaning out the office at his parent’s house and showed them to the boy. He had no idea what they were or how to use them; he just held them away from himself awkwardly as if the old things would go up in flames handled poorly. He just couldn’t for the life of him wrap his head around floppy disks, or how DOS worked when that topic later came up.
As my friend told me this story I was cracking up. I thought it was hilarious. Of course someone born in 2002 wouldn’t know what to do with a 5 ¼ “ floppy. But this whole event got my friend all melancholic. When he finished his story he snapped at me,
“Hey! It’s not that funny. This is something that is a part of me, part of my childhood. How would you feel if your little cousin Katie couldn’t figure out an NES, or didn’t know the old classics?
I stopped laughing. He had a point, (Sort of.) The idea of her not knowing how classic games and systems worked wouldn’t shock or depress me, but the more I thought of it, it did seem kind of sad that she didn’t know where to start with retro gaming. When I saw her around Christmas she expressed interest in trying a lot of my older games, so on my next trip home I brought a few favorites to play with her.
Tip: If you bringing multiple game consoles through airport security remember to put them through the scanners properly. If you don’t you’re going to have a bad time.
A few days into my trip back east, my cousin Kaite (Who I’ve previously discussed in a previous article,) came over. We went down to the basement for some gaming and on the way down I pulled out a Turbografx/PC-Engine Game card and handed it to her.
“What is this? She asked. A key card to your building?” I snickered a little.
“No,” I told her it’s a game card, like a cartridge- for a game system that came out in the 1980’s.” She stopped and looked at me with an annoyed glare that only a teenager can provide.
When we reached the TV the three consoles were laid out in front. Her eyes lit up and she started flipping through my games. I told her to pick out two or three games for each system for us to play. I then realized that up until this point she had never played any 8 or 16-bit games on an actual console, she had only played them on compilation packs for the Wii or DS. She didn’t know the controllers, the common. codes, or tricks; she didn’t know anything. This little gaming session would be a very new experience to her and I realized it might totally changer her opinions on retro games as a whole.
Right then and there I made our game session into a mini experiment. I wanted to find out what it is about these old games that attracted kids Katie’s age who have no real connection or nostalgia to these systems, I grew curious of what Katie and other kids her age liked about old games, and how far into this hobby would she go as she got older.
I decided I wouldn’t do anything for her and would only tell her a quick tip if she asks. The rest of it all would be up to her. I was curious to see how she reacted to the finicky NES, and took to the old controllers. I wondered if she had good taste in games and if she found the typical old game quirks and mechanics endearing or frustrating. But most of all, I wanted to see if she could have fun with games I grew up with and could see the points in them that I find excellent among what might now be considered stale or convoluted. In the end we played six games across three consoles:
NES: Mario 3, Little Nemo,
SNES: Earthbound, F-Zero
TurboGrafx/PC-Engine: Double Dungeons, Schbibinman 2 (Shockman in the US)
NEXT TIME: Still Loading goes over Katie’s response to the retro games and consoles listed above and examines why she thinks kids her age get into retro games.