Some thoughts on retro gaming, nostalgia and childhood stories

So after a few weeks of streaming some of my current PC games, I’ve been trying to think of what sort of overall theme I want my Twitch/YouTube presence to have. I could keep mostly streaming Minecraft * but really there are a million MC streamers out there. Really there are about a millionty-one PC game and current console streamers already out there, and I feel like if I keep doing what I’m doing, even keeping the “my kids** and their friends are watching lol look at how bad I am at this okay self try not to cuss too much” angle, it’ll keep feeling a bit too much like a retread of what literally everyone else is doing.

This week I’ve been bopping around on Amazon staring lustfully at the ElGato HD60 because I was thinking about streaming my hilari-bad attempts at playing Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey*** but I can’t quite justify the cost of an HDMI capture card, not at this point in my fledgling streaming… experiment? Sure, let’s call it that. And then, poking around the cheaper options, I stumbled across RCA to USB converters and something in my brain said “Aha!” and immediately the theme from Zombies Ate My Neighbors started playing in my head.

Look, y’all know I’m an Old. Full disclosure, I’m staring down the barrel of 40. Not quite Pong old, or even quite Atari/NES old, but old enough to remember needing a box or a stool at the arcade because I was too tiny to reach the controls at five or six, old enough that having a personal computer (moment of silence for my Apple IIGS) was still a revolutionary thing to have, especially for a kid, and definitely old enough to remember the sheer unadulterated joy of finding Super Nintendo games under the Christmas tree in 1991, knowing that the console itself was under there somewhere (and my dad muttering something about “someone put the cart before the horse” but enjoying my moment anyway). I still have that exact console, which still works and get played with regularly in my house. I also still have a working Game Boy**** as well as all but one (two?) of my own games. So yeah. Old.

A while back, in a conversation I had about reissued game consoles that tend to hit the market every Christmas season, a friend of mine said something about not understanding the idea of spending money on retro-gaming. As far as games were concerned they didn’t want to keep wallowing in the past, but wanted to embrace the now or the future in terms of game consoles. This person has also previously stated a similar viewpoint on keeping/rereading books, because “what’s the point if you know how the story ends already?” Needless to say I respectfully but vehemently disagree, as my home library can attest. While I admittedly should go through and cull the books I am definitely never reading again, my library contains volumes I have acquired over the years – dusty hardbacks, Scholastic Book Club paperbacks I have meticulously repaired with scotch tape, gifts from friends – that I return to repeatedly to the point of almost considering the books themselves old friends.

Unsurprisingly, I have the same attitude towards games. While I had both Game Boy and SNES growing up, I only had a handful of games because I was 13, games were expensive and my parents, being Olds even at the time they were raising me, really didn’t see the point of constantly buying me new ones. I think I had less than 5 total for the SNES, only a couple more for the Game Boy and borrowed the rest from friends. Then high school started really kicking my ass and I didn’t have time for video games again until after college. As a result, I’ve played the ever loving crap out of my handful of games, and occasionally going back and revisiting them has the same feel as picking up a well-loved book. Sure, I’m older and wiser and not as blind to various flaws in the game (Example: that rampant Princess as Macguffin trope as well as other problematic gender stereotypes in Mario games – shoutout to Black Girl Gaming, btw) but picking up an old controller and executing a series of jumps that are still in your muscle memory a quarter century later is its own kind of weirdly comforting.

Anyway. I bought a cheap ass analog to USB converter dongle, and this weekend I’m going to see if I can get it to work. If I can, I’ll take y’all on my latest trip down Nostalgia Lane with me. Possibly with less cussing.


* I know, I know, I need to make a post about the Contemporary build eventually. lol I am bad at game blogging.

** by “kids” I also mean my former Minecraft server kids, they didn’t call me Server Mama for nothing.

*** insert pout about how much farther Husbeast and Wee Beast are than me – I’m still in what is essentially Mario Mexico because I’ve barely had time to play.

**** Not my original; my nephew drowned that one in a bucket of water in, like, 1997. I’m still bitter.

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