"Classic" vs. "Retro"

by Clint Dyer

In the red corner, wearing the black trunks with the Atari 2600 logo on the front, "Retroooooooooo"! And in the blue corner, wearing the gray trunks with the Vectrex logo on the front, "Claaaaaaasic"! Letís get reeeeeady to rummmmmmble!

Throughout this article, I will use the words "I" and "me". In all but the first and last paragraphs, read those two words as "all those out there who are like me and donít follow the ĎRetroí descriptions below".

Hello, Iím Clint Dyer and Iíve been into video games ever since there were video games. I owned the first Pong system I ever saw, though probably not the first Pong system ever. I had a Fairchild Channel F and all the games that were out. Our family would spend hour after hour competing with the neighbors down the street who also had one. I had the Atari 2600 in 1977 and my family played that thing to death from the moment it came into the house with Circus, Outlaw and Combat. I built up a collection of about 100 games by saving quarters that I would have to deposit in a jar for each game I played. Eventually I lost interest in video games and turned my interests to the fairer sex and computers. 3 or 4 years after that, once I had the fairer sex problem figured out, I got back into my old games. I got all my old 2600 and Fairchild games from my uncle back east who I let borrow them and really fell in love all over again. And, the rest, as they say is history.

One of the terms I have heard used recently regarding classic gaming is the word "Retro". The word itself means backward or back, so technically, it is correct when referring to old games. Aside from the dictionary meaning, this word also has other connotations. It connotes "hip", "trendy", "in style", "fashionable", etc. It connotes Pet Rocks, Mood rings, Ginsui knives, 8-tracks and Beta VCRís. In short, here today, gone tomorrow. Used mostly in news reports on the web about companies trying to capitalize on the popularity of their classic games (Namco, Williams/Atari to name a couple), this word drives a spike through the heart of what I am. It is indeed here today, but for me, tomorrow will never come.

The word "classic", by definition means 1) serving as an outstanding representative of itís kind and 2) having lasting significance and recognized worth. The word really has no connotations, as everything it means is everything it is. It does a perfect job in describing what exactly the hobby is. Itís collecting games that were an outstanding representative of itís kind (without the 2600, there never would have been a Saturn or Playstation) and have significant value, not necessarily dollar value, but "worth" value to me. The games and the hobby are memories that I want to remember forever and will. I will remember opening the Circus game and playing it for 3 solid hours with my sister and father taking turns. I will remember going over to a friendís house on my birthday and him having London Blitz in the 2600 when I got there and saying "This is your birthday present, happy birthday!". If this were retro, none of those memories would have happened and the games would just be dinosaurs that are graphically challenged at best. They, in short would mean nothing to me.

Those that use, live and breathe the word "Retro" will lose interest and be out of the hobby when the prices rise above their expectations, or the supply of the games dries up or they just plain get tired of having all the clutter in the house. Iíll be here to buy their games from them and when it becomes "Retro" again, theyíll be buying the games back from me. Iíve been into it since it started and someone at a magazine that will die if/when the Playstation, N-64 or Saturn will die telling me that the hobby I have enjoyed for over 10 years total is hip, trendy, in style or fashionable is quite annoying and quite incorrect. Itís not those things for me. Rather, itís been those things since it started. Itís in my blood and itís a part of my life - forever.

More about me:

I was born in 1967 in Lancaster, PA, my eyes are hazel, my hair is brown and my waist line is... Oh, wrong place, sorry. As you can probably tell from the article, Iím pretty well associated with the video game scene. Iíve worked at Sega for 7 years and more recently at a company that made games for their own desktop computer device. My goal in life would be to make games that I love to play and that everyone reading this would love to play as well. I have a collection of games that numbers close to 4,000 (3,600 to be more exact) and have close to 650 handhelds. Iíve written and maintain 4 F.A.Q.s (Frequently Asked Questions for internet lingo challenged people) on classic video games. My favorite is the Handheld FAQ, now going on itís 12 revision. The other 3 Iíve done are the Foreign Master System FAQ, the Fairchild Channel F FAQ and a spinoff of the handheld FAQ, called the "Keychain Games FAQ" (with 2 friends, Robert Worne - http://www.primenet.com/~rworne and Galen Komatsu - no web page). Iíve interacted with more people than I can count, including some of the best classic gamers on the planet in the B.A.V.E. group and at one time or another, received fanzines from all around the world. The best for the 2600 is Tim Duarteís "2600 Connection" (had to get the plug in there somewhere!). If youíre interested in more of my ramblings, my handheld web page is located at http://www.best.com/~cdyer. 2600 Connection can be ordered by writing Tim Duarte at: timdu@hotmail.com or visiting his web page at: http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/Lair/9260, or via snail mail: 2600 Connection c/o Tim Duarte PO Box 885 Mattapoisett , MA 02739.

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Last updated: Tuesday, February 13, 2007 06:03 PM