If you are anything like me, you can still hear the theme tunes of your favorite games, growing up. Maybe it’s because they played on repeat for hours as you lost yourself in the game, or maybe it’s something more.
What retro gamers seem to agree on is that old-style games bring back happy memories of simpler times. Often, we played the games of our older siblings or cousins, making us feel like we were super cool as we learned their skills and turned ourselves into our real-life heroes.
As adults, our worlds are so busy, so complicated and constantly changing, so it makes complete sense that we would look to older games to get that sense of nostalgia.
For those of us who have kids, and are now introducing our old games to them, seeing them learn skills and do moves that we discovered as kids, brings a whole new level of pride and excitement. The retro feel, with the 2D graphics, happy little tunes and familiar feel of the controls are just that sense of home that we long for.
But, surely, it’s not just happy memories of the past that keep us coming back for more? Well, no. As with most things, there are some psychological factors that play a part. Gaming activates the reward centers of the brain. When you play a game, neural pathways are created that become engrained as pathways to pleasure and reward. These pathways are so strong that even the memory of them can activate that happy hormone, dopamine. Memories can be triggered by sights, smells, sounds, touch or even a thought. (Imagine how much stronger an actual console will be as a trigger!)
Another way that retro gaming makes us happy is the theory that nostalgia makes us more resilient. The idea is that, if we can look back on a time with happy memories, we will be able to have hope for the future. And that’s where the retro games come in. Re-living our happy past, right here, in the present, gives us that sense of familiarity and continuity that we need, to make us feel secure.
During this global pandemic, depression rates have sky-rocketed, and, maybe not so coincidentally, so has the gravitation to retro gaming. According to psychologists, there are some pretty cool advantages to playing retro games right now. Some of them are:
- Learning perseverance through rough times
- Feelings of achievement and success
- Learning patience
- Learning grit
- Learning to work hard for rewards
All of these qualities were instilled in kid-you, and now, as you play these games again, they are not only reinforced, but are added to your current pleasant experiences of playing.
All in all, if retro games look cool to you, no matter what the reasons, give them a go. There are plenty consoles and games available for you to take a trip down 8-bit memory lane, or enjoy it for the first time.
If you are looking for a console, check out our store and get your hands on some happy!