Gaming Systems Not Just for Kids Anymore!

In the past, gaming systems were seen as mere toys for children.  That’s changed in recent years, of course; with consoles like the PlayStation 4, the Wii U, and the Xbox One, gaming has become more popular than ever.  Their momentum won’t stop anytime soon, but that image problem may still be in effect.  If anything, the reverse is true.

Studies by the Entertainment Software Association in 2014 have shown that the average age of gamers is 31; only 29% of the gaming population is 18 and under, while 39% of them are 36 or older.  It’s a safe bet that the numbers come from the cost of gaming; the PlayStation 4 started off with a $400 price tag, so those with disposable income have a better shot at playing the latest games without having to pilfer from the piggy bank.

Still, it’s not hard to see why some people think of gaming systems as toys for kids.  The 1200px-NES-Console-Setvideo game crash of 1983 happened because of a market flooded with low-quality products, and consumers en masse turned their backs on countless overpriced systems.  Nintendo helped video games bounce back in 1985 with the launch of the Nintendo Entertainment System — better known as the Nintendo NES — but did so thanks to misdirection.  The console launched with R.O.B., the Robotic Operating Buddy, as a means to convince buyers that they would get their kids the hottest new toy instead of a console.  The NES would go on to introduce young gamers to all sorts of video games, but in doing so helped build a stigma against the entire medium.

On the plus side, the retro video games of the past helped create lifelong bonds.  Characters like Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, Samus Aran and more have long since become classic pillars of gaming history — a history that stood strong in the eighties, bloomed in the nineties, and inspired incredible passion in the new millennium and beyond.  The people that once played games — and loved them intensely — are now the people making games, either as part of massive corporations or working as independent developers.  Nostalgic appeal is common with the latter, with games like Shovel Knight leading the charge.  But the former uses its resources to offer up something new.

Companies are aware that gamers are getting older, and the medium is changing.  With the improved technology at hand, they’ve opted to make more complex worlds, stories, and characters.  Major releases like The Witcher 3 task players with traversing a grisly world and making decisions with no right answer and long-lasting effects; 2013 saw the release of The Last of Us, a trek across post-apocalyptic America acclaimed for its emotional heft.  Developers are using games to explore complex ideas, plots, and worlds so that gamers can feel the impact firsthand. At the same time the retro video game market has exploded recently. Many of these same people running the show are still going back to their childhood and buying used retro video games online. The idea of re-living your childhood or just nostalgia is a huge selling point in the used video game market.

Consoles have evolved, much like the games and the people who play them.  Given that, it’s plainly obvious that gaming systems aren’t just for kids.


Lets discover how to Find those Retro Gaming Gems!

Do you miss the days where you spent hours playing Pac-Man or Super Mario Kart? Want to finally get the last piece of the Legend of Zelda’s Triforce? Here’s a look at where to find some of the old school video games that you remember fondly.

The Attic

Unless your mom wanted to make a few extra bucks at her garage sale, chances are that no one ever bothered to get rid of your old games. Go digging around the house and see what you can find.

If you find your old Super Nintendo but can’t quite get it working, a simple Internet investigation may help you solve the problem. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials that will help get your old gaming systems up and running, and you can also purchase cleaning kits online.  Even if the system isn’t salvageable, odds are that your games still work and you just need a new system to play them on.

Second Hand Stores:

Thrift stores, flea markets, pawn shops and garage sales. If you have a specific list of games to purchase, this is probably akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. However, if you’re just looking for some affordable games or an old Sega Genesis, then you could find some hidden treasure.

Online Venue

eBay. If you can contain your excitement long enough for the product to be shipped to you, online auction site eBay will offer the best variety and very competitive prices on games and hardware. Sometimes you can get a really good deal when a seller is offering a system and multiple games for purchase.  Amazon is anther resource to use, but actually seeing a photo may not be as easy as finding the game though.

Local Video Game Store:

There are stores that specialize in retro video games, and some video game chains stock old games. These stores may also buy and sell games, so chances of a trade in for what you are looking can be an option.  The prices can be a little steeper at these stores, but they have several advantages over thrift shops. Not only will you often find an excellent variety of games and systems, you usually have the ability to trade in your old games for store credit. Plus, many of these stores have return policies in case the game you buy doesn’t work. That’s not usually an option at a thrift store or garage sale.

Virtual Console:

If you have a Wii, Wii U or Nintendo 3DS, then you have access to Nintendo’s Virtual Console, which allows you to download old games cheaply. Virtual Console doesn’t have every Nintendo game ever made, but it features a solid selection.

The Virtual Consoles games vary depending on which system you have, with the Wii version offering the most games. The Wii Virtual Consoles has tons of games from the NES, Super Nintendo and N64 systems. It also has a few Sega Master System games, an excellent selection of Sega Genesis games, and games from more obscure systems like TurboGrafx, Neo Geo and even a few old Commodore 64 games. The 3DS Virtual Console has games from the original Nintendo Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance and Sega Game Gear.

The same can be said about the playstation network.  Sony is rapidly improving the PSN (playstation network), with many classic retro games being brought back to life.  A few games are even getting re-mastered or maybe having some additional content added to the experience.

The Conclusion:

Now that you’ve got some games, enjoy your quality time with the Mario Brothers and Sonic the Hedgehog. Just be careful: The same games you found addictive the first time you played them may still have that allure. All-night Zelda fests may make it difficult to get up for work the next day.

The Pros & Cons of Emulating Video Games!

An emulator is a program designed to emulate another platform such as a games console on another computer. Emulators are often used by enthusiasts of older video games which were designed for now-obsolete games consoles and operating systems. Emulators are also used in the form of virtual machines to run an older operating system on a newer one in order to overcome compatibility issues and run older programs which are no longer supported by the host operating system. Due to its status as the dominant operating system on desktop and laptop computers, Windows has many emulators available for it.

Emulators are the only practical way of playing video games designed for older computers, such as those made by Atari, Amiga or Acorn. Since these manufacturers ceased production of computers back in the 90s, the only way to play games and run software designed for them is to use an emulator for the host operating system (e.g. Windows 7) unless you have the original computer itself. Emulators are also available for almost all of the games consoles of old as well as some of the newer ones. For Windows, and various other operating systems, there are emulators for the Super Nintendo, Sony PlayStation, Gameboy and much more.

Since modern computers are vastly more powerful and feature-rich than computers and games consoles made in the 80s and 90s, they are more than capable of running such old software and video games. The Amiga 500+, for example, was one of the most popular computers back in the early- to mid-nineties. It had a 7 MHz processor and 2 MB of memory. Today’s computers are many, many times faster. In spite of this, you’ll still need a far more powerful computer for emulation than the computer or console you are emulating. This is because all of the processing is done using the emulator software to run games, programs and operating systems which were never designed to run on the host operating system.

Emulators can be even better than the real thing. For example, if you’re running a Super Nintendo emulator on a computer, you can enjoy better sound, smoother graphics, lower loading times and better connectivity features.

Emulators are often a subject of copyright-related controversy. Due to copyright laws, emulating older video games and software can be problematic, since most people obtain the software illegally. While there’s a great deal of software and games available legally and for free (this is often known as “abandonware”), many products are still copyright-protected and running them with an emulator is illegal unless you own the original software, be it in the form of a games console cartridge or the original CD or floppy disk.

Written By: Brandon Perton