The Problem With Nostalgia

I feel like this is probably a good point to post a warning about the shortcomings of nostalgia.

Part of the impetus for this reboot is some nostalgia for my childhood.  There’s something inviting about these games and computer programs from my past… I can feel it calling me to drop present day responsibilities, fire up some Atari and DOS emulators (maybe even some NES and SNES, but that is for later in this project), and relive my childhood where I can be happy and free.

But there is simply no more appropriate response to this than a short snippet from an article in Retro Gamer magazine.  I subscribed to Retro Gamer yesterday as one of my avenues of research for this project, and this quote from Tim Shafer (of Lucasfilm Games fame) stopped me short.  Here Tim is speaking about the “death” of the point-and-click genre:

While some fans were dismayed to see Tim abandoning point-and-click adventures for a console platform game, he has little time for knee-jerk nostalgia.  “People shouldn’t cry for any genre” he proclaims.  “I think people actually show disrespect for an art form when they talk about keeping it alive.  […]  There are a lot of great old games out there but I think we are swayed by our own nostalgic feelings sometimes.  We often remember games as being better than they were.  The experience was the game intersected with who you were at the time, and you’ll never be able to experience it the same again.” — Retro Gamer, Lucasarts Signature Collection, p. 47.

What a profound thought!  A lot of nostalgia is trying to recapture the experience of playing those games way back when.  But if you have ever replayed those games, there is something missing.  I like to get back into an old game that I played sometimes, but this only lasts for a few minutes and then the urge is satiated.  I will never spend the hours and hours with old software like I used to–because there is just no going back–things are different now.

And so I come to the point of this reboot.  Not to relive classic memories, video games, etc.  I’d just like to get this stuff down so I remember.  Try to rebuild my mental cache of these things (and other things) from way back when.  And hopefully it will make for an interesting read for the other .01% of the population that remember these things with me.


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