Official Thimbleweed Park Forums

When is a game a "retro" game?


I don’t think of acoustic guitar as retro, maybe because people have continously used them, whereas old games were made, played and forgotten about, then brought back again by nostalgia or whatever. It feels like a clearer line to me. But I don’t really know enough about music history - those are just my feels!


It´s an interesting thing to think about. I always try to find analogies and then look if those fit to test a theory. Nothing wrong with your feels! :slight_smile:


Yeah, and that’s a fun thing to do :slightly_smiling_face: That one made me think a lot and I like stretching my brain.


Diggin´ that mental image right now. :laughing:


I was about to say: ok, you’re right, but then I read this

And I have to agree with Kate, again.

If you put the blue-ray of a silent movie from the twenties into your player, and watch the movie on your couch, there’s nothing “retro” in it.
It is different if you go in a small club where they put up a projection of an old 35mm film, with a guy playing the piano according to the original score written to match the images. That’s retro.

If you take pictures with your digital camera and print them in black and white, you’re not retro. If you take the very same pics with an old film camera and develop and print them in your bathroom, that’s retro.


I like your train of thought here. But I think you have it backwards. The definition of “retro” is “imitative of a style or fashion from the recent past”, so the old stuff itself cannot be retro, because it is the real old stuff. Something that is made to (superficially) appear like the old stuff is retro.


That is mine and pretty much everybody´s argument here. Hoewever the point was that it could refer to the act itself.

When you “party like it´s 1999” you are doing a retro party (because obviously the meaning of that term has changed now).


Yeah, but I think there’s no difference. If people party like it’s 1999 they might put on music from that era, wear their old clothes, mix drinks that were popular back then … they are imitating 1999. That’s retro, by its very definition, isn’t it?

Retrogaming must therefore be an imitation of the kind of gaming people did back then. Playing old games on old hardware is no imitation, so it’s hardly retro gaming. Playing old games on an emulator (or a C64 mini) might count, though. As might be playing modern games that imitate old games. Or playing games while wearing your old clothes and listening to Livin’ La Vida Loca. But that’s a bit of a stretch …


That´s actually what I wanted to say, yes.

We should try that sometime…un, dos, tres…!


It would make sense, but… the term was coined when the emulators were all the rage. And that is not “how they were meant to be played”. Except for DosBox, which runs PC games on PCs, so it is how they were meant to be played, retrogaming has always been used to “playing an old game”.

In fact, playing on a replica console shouldn’t fall in Kate’s definition, as digital/HD video interface, no loading times, no loading errors is not a “retro” experience. It’s just “playing an old game with a replica of an old controller on a console from the same brand that has look similar to the old one”.

I also understand Kate’s “clear line” objection, but that is also true for B&W movies. Once color was there, B&W was left behind. So,

just as much as putting a digital copy of an old game into your HDMI console, playing it on a 42’’ screen. That’s just gaming.


Sound film would be a better example since the transition to all colour film was WAY more gradual.


But also gaming evolution was gradual.

Budgets and system requirements meant that you could have in the same year high-res 3D games and blocky pixel games.


I do appreciate that it’s used as a general term for playing old games, and I even use it like that myself sometimes for convenience (such as Twitter hashtags). It’s an easy and recognisable way to talk about playing old games. But for me that isn’t technically right, as that’s not what ‘retro gaming’ means.

It doesn’t - I was talking about actual old consoles, not replicas. Maybe that’s what you’re saying though?

Agreed - to me that’s not proper retrogaming.


Yes, more or less. I agree that you could call retrogaming playing with old systems and old equipment. I just don’t like when it’s just referred to “playing NES games”, because it conveys the message that old games are something that must be forgotten, real games are just modern ones. It annoys me as much as movie remakes.


Yeah, me too. I also feel that to some extent without those older games we wouldn’t have modern ones. They owe their ancestors, dammit!

On a separate note, there’s a strange thing that keeps happening on this forum. I have an idea for an article or blog post or something, and then somehow it ends up being a point of discussion on here (when I haven’t even initiated it). So if anyone happens to notice that, I’m not stealing your ideas :laughing:

No one start talking about premature burial.



Ahhh ahhhh…okaaaayyyyy :zipper_mouth_face:

(that was used as the cover for my german edition of Dracula btw)


Coincidentally (although pretty predictably) it’s also the cover of the book I’ve dug out (aptly) for my background reading.


(the other picture I could have chosen was an old illustration of the bell system they used in parts of the central cemetary in vienna).

Since this doesn´t have to do with grammar nitpicking can I ask what you are writing this for, because I´d be really interested in reading it!

I think the first episode of the TV version of Lore also covered this topic.


I’ll let you know when it’s done :slightly_smiling_face:


There’s worse… like “FINALLY!”

Good point!
The answer obviously is no.
But there was a time acoustic guitars were out of fashion in pop music as they were “old” like heavily associated with 1960’s music.
Of course since there barely has been written any real “new” music since - I dunno- 1995, all music is retro now.

Plus the music industry had a similar discussion when they started prepending “classical” to the word music.
And pop(ular) music. Imagine the heated pre-internet discussions about those words… “as if my music isn’t popular/doesn’t have class?”
And the outcome is the same: don’t let any label determine your enjoyment of something. (Well except perhaps for the labels “banned/illegal”, but that’s another story)

Rather games were made, they were played (not forgotten) then new games were made and played (not forgotten) and the players grow older and can’t keep up so they revisit the first games. Show it to younger people who think “that actually looks good in a retro-fashion way. I can make a buck by not going all 3D, because there is market of old folks that like simple games with old-style graphics” or something like that.
Even compared to film, I think gaming is the only media so far to have evolved so quickly that you have people that lived to see the (entire) evolution and the first time you are confronted with their preferred games/platforms.

Also… there are purists (playing classical music on period-accurate instruments) just like you have that in gaming.
But in the end if it is close enough to enjoy it, who really cares? Also some of that original old stuff is priceless, so we do settle for the next best thing often. In that sense, games being a digital medium gives it the potential to be preserved and enjoyed for eternity.
And I am sure that game developers saw the (now retro) consoles & computers as a limitation to their creativity rather than a holy grail to have something in only 8-bit colors with 2K RAM. The rest is nostalgia, really. (Nothing wrong with that by the way! I prefer playing Sega games on the MegaDrive over using an emulator or a retropie as some here do :wink: )