Jump to content
IGNORED

What is a "Retro Game"?


Recommended Posts

Last night I participated in a debate on the Retro World Series stream where we discussed what the definition of a "Retro Game" should constitute. Guests included:

  • Hal Hawkins, Moderator (Retro World Series)
  • John Lester (Gamester81/Game On Expo)
  • George Gracin (G to the Next Level)
  • Ryan Burger (Old School Gamer Magazine)
  • And me, Christian Deitering (Let's Play Gaming Expo/Mother to Earth)

I think that a lot of interesting points were brought up and would love to hear what you guys think about our discussion. 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did not watch, but I am also not able to vote for any of the choices.

Retro is a style. A style that calls back to the past. It does not have to be confined to a specific medium or hardware constraint.

Mega Man is a vintage, 8-bit platforming game. Shovel Knight is a retro, 8-bit style platforming game.

I’m curious if there is such debate about terminology in other hobbies. This topic comes up surprisingly often in game collecting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Either an old school game from back in the day or a new title done in the same style as those old school games.

So Sonic 2 on your Sega Genesis, but also Sonic Mania which is a new title but a direct throwback to that style.

"Vintage" sounds too pretentious.  Never heard someone call themselves a "Vintage Gamer" or that they play "Vintage Games."

Edited by fox
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, fox said:

"Vintage" sounds too pretentious.  Never heard someone call themselves a "Vintage Gamer" or that they play "Vintage Games."

I play vintage games! But I'd just call myself a gamer.

I went with the last definition. I'm torn between two arguments. Language is defined by how people use it, so if everyone calls NES and Atari games "retro" because they're old, then English speaking people have decided old games are "retro" regardless of the definition boomers wrote into the dictionary. At the same time, I think retro refers to a style, so Shovel Knight is a super retro game. The word annoys me so I usually say vintage/old for old games and "retro-styled" for modern games.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

When people argue the literal definition of "Retro" I like to point to the word "Terrific"

Today, the word terrific means something great. Before it was something that invoked great fear. It is directly related to the word "Terror" and "Terrifying".

 

That aside, I consider a game platform to be retro when there are a few generations between releases.

Dreamcast, Xbox, PS2, Gamecube, and GBA have been retro for me for a couple years now.

Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, and PSP will be retro for me in a few short years.

 

Edit: Also I need to add this. I also consider everything before the NES (2600, 5200, INTV, Coleco, etc.) to be something else. Maybe "archaic" or "antiquated"

These games for me are unplayable, and only appreciable as relics of their time to me.

They are also "retro" but they are "Antiquated Retro Games" ... NES will eventually be here, and it's getting close for me.

Edited by ThePhleo
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

definition 5 is the only one Id consider mostly right.

 

The first 4 peoples opinions are just completely wrong. What they are thinking of is vintage. People say retro all the time and have no clue what it means. They are trying to change the meaning of a word. Changing the meaning of the word is bad because you are now lumping everything old to mean retro when it is not. So it doesnt mean anything anymore.

Edited by Quest4Nes
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, fox said:

Either an old school game from back in the day or a new title done in the same style as those old school games.

So Sonic 2 on your Sega Genesis, but also Sonic Mania which is a new title but a direct throwback to that style.

"Vintage" sounds too pretentious.  Never heard someone call themselves a "Vintage Gamer" or that they play "Vintage Games."

No

Its just the games made in the style of old

 

For example. Yes Sonic Mania is Retro. Sonic 2 is a vintage game. It doesnt matter what vintage sounds like to you. Its the definition of the words "retro" and "vintage" Saying your a retro gamer because you play old games is just the wrong use of the word.

 

retro - imitative of a style, fashion, or design from the recent past.

 

 

The use of the word retro is a pet peeve right behind people sounding out calling a super nintendo a sness and a nintendo ness. Just makes the ears bleed

Edited by Quest4Nes
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the past, hardware limitations dictated game design far more then they do today. I don't think the "20 years" is a relevant rule because as time passes hardware limitations are less and less relevant. The 16 years between the nes and the gamecube are not the same as the 16 years between the gamecube and the switch.

I feel that the gamecube will never be retro. The n64 can be somewhat described as retro but only a little. As time goes, hardware limitation is less of a factor in game design.

Now, "retro style" (for modern games) may be used to refer to games today that are imitating the style that in the past was the only one possible due to technology.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, Quest4Nes said:

Saying your a retro gamer because you play old games is just the wrong use of the word.

Wrong!

Retro: When someone wears an old style clothing that was popular years past.  This can include vintage hairstyles, shoes, pants, shirts, jewelry, etc.

Retro gaming includes "vintage games."  That was understood easily by everyone for years and now the word nazis are trying to take it back.  Nobody calls themselves themselves a "Vintage Gamer" outside of these silly debates.
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@fox

 

I mean there is no more discussion to be since you are so wrong here. I have nothing else to say.

 

Using retro in place of old/vintage/antique etc is just inncorrect by the definition of the word. Immitative style of something old. Get that through your noggin

Edited by Quest4Nes
Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 minutes ago, Quest4Nes said:

simpsons-memes-no-its-the-children-who-a

Every retro gaming magazine and website I see is loaded with "vintage" consoles, controllers, and games.  Simple search and you will find loads.  You want to call it classic or old school, fine.  But "vintage gamer" come on man.

Quit trying to make "Vintage Gaming" a thing.  It's not happening. 😛
 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I voted for 4 but I don’t hold the 20 years as an exact time frame, maybe in the future as games take longer to look different it will increase a little.

I have always thought retro was just the shorten form of the French word retrograde, to go backwards.

At the end of the day, it’s all marketing. Marketers and companies use it to sell their product in the form of nostalgia. Happens in a lot of different things. Retro fashion, hair, house styles, furniture etc.

Off topic, that is a killer beard!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that most of the people that use the term 'retro gamer' use 'retro' as a prefix (without knowing it?), and would need to say retrogamer to express the neologism they're trying to say.

Yes, the word 'retro' as an adjective refers especially to the revival of styles and fashions of the past, but its use is closely linked with aesthetic in a somewhat artificial manner (it just need to 'look' like a past style or fashion).

Also, it is quite an obvious fact that our linguistic community (which is something alive and ever morphing) is trying to coin the term 'retro gamer' as something that could be used as a noun (with the correct prefix uses = retrogamer), and the meaning of it should be dictated by what it refers to in our linguistic community and not the other way around by tagging the meaning of the adjective mainly linked to fashion. That's how new words become relevant, the meaning stems from the pragmatical use. So if 99% of the people use 'retrogamer' to refers to someone who actively play video games from a certain past, then it is what the word should mean.

But we're apparently not there yet cause people still write it as if 'retro' was an adjective in the locution.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, guillavoie said:

I think that most of the people that use the term 'retro gamer' use 'retro' as a prefix (without knowing it?), and would need to say retrogamer to express the neologism they're trying to say.

Yes, the word 'retro' as an adjective refers especially to the revival of styles and fashions of the past, but its use is closely linked with aesthetic in a somewhat artificial manner (it just need to 'look' like a past style or fashion).

Also, it is quite an obvious fact that our linguistic community (which is something alive and ever morphing) is trying to coin the term 'retro gamer' as something that could be used as a noun (with the correct prefix uses = retrogamer), and the meaning of it should be dictated by what it refers to in our linguistic community and not the other way around by tagging the meaning of the adjective mainly linked to fashion. That's how new words become relevant, the meaning stems from the pragmatical use. So if 99% of the people use 'retrogamer' to refers to someone who actively play video games from a certain past, then it is what the word should mean.

But we're apparently not there yet cause people still write it as if 'retro' was an adjective in the locution.

 

 

That's how we get dumb, made up words like irregardless that have no place in the English language.

  • Eyeroll 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 12/18/2020 at 6:02 PM, ThePhleo said:

Also I need to add this. I also consider everything before the NES (2600, 5200, INTV, Coleco, etc.) to be something else. Maybe "archaic" or "antiquated"

These games for me are unplayable, and only appreciable as relics of their time to me.

They are also "retro" but they are "Antiquated Retro Games" ... NES will eventually be here, and it's getting close for me.

"Antiquated" is exactly the word I would have used and couldn't agree more. I really see the merit in both arguments and in practicality both are true, one is just a sub-form of the other. PS1 games are certainly 'retro', they are outdated by many generations past them. Atari/colleco/even nes are outdated by many more generations even before the former. So in reality, there needs to be a marker for the terminology being used to indicate the extent by which something is defined as 'retro'. So as you described, "antiquated retro" or as I would rather put it "Classical retro".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Graphics Team · Posted

My apologies in advance because this is gonna be snarky...

Regarding the semantics debate over the term "retro": Context matters.

In fashion and design circles, "retro" generally follows the dictionary definition of imitating a past style.
In gaming communities, "retro" is generally used as a slang term to mean "classic" or "vintage".
If you refuse to allow words to have their meaning vary by context, especially where slang terminology is concerned, you'll have to stop calling CIBs "mint" unless you go around licking cardboard boxes to test their flavor.
Also - I like to say something is "sick" or "cool" if I like it. To alleviate any confusion here, I'm not referring to being in poor health or low temperatures haha.

Language would be impossible to navigate without contextualizing, and it evolves over time. Yes, that can lead to some unfortunate butchering of terminology, but I don't see what's so wrong with certain words developing alternate uses in reference to specific things.

Okay - glad I got that off my chest. Nobody has to agree with me - just take a moment to consider these points.

-CasualCart

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 12/20/2020 at 4:07 AM, fox said:

Wrong!

Retro: When someone wears an old style clothing that was popular years past.  This can include vintage hairstyles, shoes, pants, shirts, jewelry, etc.

Retro gaming includes "vintage games."  That was understood easily by everyone for years and now the word nazis are trying to take it back.  Nobody calls themselves themselves a "Vintage Gamer" outside of these silly debates.

I agree with this.

I'm a words guy, but I'm also a prescribed linguistics guy. How the language truly works is much more important to me than the theories, definitions, and rules stuffy old guys write up.

I think a better idea of the definition would be to ask a bunch of English as a second language learners what their understanding of the word is, as that would likely yield a better result as to the essence of the meaning.

 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share


  • Welcome to VGS!

    Play, Make, Collect.

    Here at VGS all kinds of gamers are welcome, and that includes you!

    Join the conversation!

×
×
  • Create New...