I was approached via email about doing an interview for a small media blog called “Review Fix” (based out of the New York city area) about the rise in “retro” gaming. Here is the result:
“When Polygons Meet Pixels: Retro Games Enjoy Second Coming of Cool”
by Eric Jankiewicz
Daniel Lefkowitz, a longtime customer at 8 Bit & Up, likes the Golden Eye and Conker’s Bad Fur Day Nintendo 64 games just fine. But he has a special love: Elmo
“It just cheers me up after a hard day,” said Lefkowitz, 27. “I get to go home and turn on my N64 and there’s my little guy, laughing and jumping around. It just comforts me.”
Even in the age of high definition, blocky 1990s Nintendo 64 video games thrive in a shadow market at places like 8 Bit & Up in the East Village. Lefkowitz is among a growing group of buyers spending big bucks to revel in the games of the past.
“The retail of retro is really big right now,” said Tim Wolf, an employee at the St. Marks Place video game haven. “A lot of people are trading games right now. Everybody is going retro.”
On any given week, Wolf said, up to 50 customers will ask for the hottest games on the retro market: Nintendo 64 cartridges from circa 1996 to 1999. Games can run from $50 for a used “Conker’s Bad Fur Day” up to $500 for a mint-condition “007 Golden Eye.” The game system can sell for as much as $70, if it’s in good condition.
Experts say the retro trend has grown amid the development of graphics that seem to have a higher resolution than reality itself, beginning with the release of Play Station 2 in 2000 and the Xbox in 2001. So even with the Play Station 4 due to hit shelves later this year, some gamers are looking for a more old-school experience.
“The power of nostalgia does cross generations, in the same way that kids like classic rock that their grandparents listened to,” said Ed Chang, an adjunct professor at the University of Washington and organizer of a website looks at video games from an academic point of view.
Chang said some fans are trying to collect and digitize old video games to preserve them. Some schools have already started this process: The University of Michigan created an archive of new and old video games that students have access to, much like an online library.
“In my side of the world, there’s a lot of interest in preserving games,” said Chang said, noting that the American Art Smithsonian held a video game exhibition called, “The Art of Video Games” last year.
“There has been a lot of attention on this massive medium,” he added.