Retro gaming is something that I’m relatively new to. Playing older consoles, growing a collection, modding them to look better, enjoying the games themselves solely for the fun factor – it’s all exciting. In experiencing these games, the realization of my obsession is rooted well beyond the games themselves and more in the ability to own physical cartridges, pop them in, and play the games as they were originally intended to be played.
I’ve been a gamer for years. I’ve been gaming ever since my grandparents gave me a Gameboy, but that’s a story for another time. When it came to gaming back then, physical was the only option. You purchased the game at a brick and mortar store or you simply did not play the game through any legal means. I went to stores, purchased games, sat down, popped them in, and played them nearly religiously. The sound of the click every time I inserted a cartridge into my Nintendo 64 was well worth it. I didn’t appreciate it then, but the crisp sound of affirmation is one I can’t emulate through any means.
When revisiting old cartridges I’ve had for years, the idea of sitting in front of a TV and playing them like I was a child again was one I simply couldn’t shake. It took priority in my life, and getting a CRT TV became the only thing I cared about. In came Craigslist and out came me with a Sony Trinitron weighing 120 pounds (oh my God). Plopping it in a corner of my room with my Gamecube and Nintendo 64 hooked up to it, it was time to game. The simple act of popping in games and pressing the power button made me feel as if the best decision of my life was sitting right in front of me. I felt the ease of use in Nintendo’s analog buttons on each console, I felt the joy of knowing I could pop in any game I own and be thrown directly into a world where the game was champion of my senses. It was a nostalgic, euphoric feeling.
Owning games is one thing I found myself trying to somehow replicate from childhood. As a child, I had the mentality that if I wanted a game, the easiest way to get it was to sell 99% of everything I had. So, because of childhood ignorance and an EBGames being too close to where I lived, I eventually lost most of my gaming lifestyle. I was sitting there with one Nintendo 64 game, three Gamecube ones, and a face that was busy sweeping dust off the floor. However, thanks to the Internet, this time I came out with… a lot of games.
While playing these games, I eventually came to the realization that owning physical media will always be a thing I opt-in for if I can. Physical media will always be near and dear to my heart. The act of building a collection, feeling the cartridge slide out of your fingertips and into its perfected slot, the sight of each specific console’s loading screen — nothing beats it. It’s a feeling that is incomparable. Owning digital titles is easier, surely; you get to download your titles easily, save them directly to your device, access them with incredible ease, but you lose everything I love about ownership.
There’s a subtle beauty in simply doing things. There’s an obvious beauty in doing things you love doing, but have no reason to explain. To me, that’s owning physical items and being able to tactically put them in the place they were purposefully designed for. The tedious procedures someone incurs by using physical media are the acts I find joyous. Physical media will always be important in my life — always. Although, I did grow up in an age where physical media was my only option and anything that allows me to feel like a child again, I’ll take it.