Retrogaming, also known as classic gaming and old school gaming, is the playing or collecting of older personal computer, console, and arcade video games in contemporary times. Usually retrogaming is based upon systems that are obsolete or discontinued.
Retrogaming has three main activities; vintage retrogaming, retrogaming emulation, and ported retrogaming.
- Vintage retrogaming includes games that are played on the original hardware.
- Emulation involves newer systems simulating old gaming systems.
- Ported retrogaming allows games to be played on modern hardware via ports or compilations. Additionally, the term could apply to a newer game, but with features similar to those of older games, such as an “retro RPG” which features turn-based combat and an isometric camera perspective.
Participants in the hobby are sometimes known as retrogamers in the United Kingdom, while the terms “classic gamers” or “old school gamers” are more prevalent in the United States. Similarly, the games are known as retrogames, classic games, or old school games.
Retrogaming has existed since the early years of the video game industry, but was popularized with the popularity of the Internet and emulation technology. It is argued that the main reasons players are drawn to retrogames are nostalgia for different eras, the idea that older games can be more challenging, and the simplicity of the games that requires less hours of gameplay.
Retro games are generally those produced from the 1970s to 2000s, and can include video games for systems and consoles from the 1st through 6th generations of video game consoles as well as personal computer games for the Commodore 64, MSX, ZX81, ZX Spectrum, Apple II, Amstrad CPC, Commodore Amiga, NEC PC-88, PC-98, Sharp X1, Sharp X68000, ZX80, FM-7 and DOS platforms. Arcade games are also popular, especially early games by Konami, Sega, Atari, Taito, Williams Electronics, Namco, Nintendo, Technos, Capcom, and SNK. Some games are played on the original hardware; others are played through emulation. Some retro games can still be played online using just the internet browser via DOS emulation. In some cases, entirely new versions of the games are designed, or remade. As well as playing games, a subculture of retrogaming has grown up around the music in retro games.
Though many abandon-ware titles are available for free download on third-party websites, the duration of copyright on creative works in most countries is far longer than the era of home computing. Emulators are typically created by third parties, and the software they run is often taken directly from the original games and put online for free download. Some companies have made public statements regarding the issues, such as Nintendo, stating that “the introduction of emulators created to play illegally copied Nintendo software represents the greatest threat to date in the intellectual property rights of video game developers”However, video game developers and publishers typically turn a blind eye to emulation.