1990's gaming

This one already makes me feel old. It’s starting to approach twenty years since the 90’s ended and gaming has changed a lot since then, for better or worse. Some experiences we remember fondly with our heavily tinted nostalgia goggles, others we’ve tried to desperately repress. Let’s look back on some of the gaming experiences time took from us.

  1. Instruction Manuals Mattered

game instruction manualsI don’t know if this is partly due the rare nature of getting a new title, or simply the excitement you felt as you drove back home with your new game, since you know, physical copies. There was something great about getting a small novel in game manual form that let you read over details of the game world, characters, abilities and so on before even pressing play. It’s not the worst thing time has taken from as, but there was something nice about it. Now you’re lucky to get a single sheet of paper advertising the DLC.

  1. Blowing N64 Cartridges

blowing into n64 cartridgeIt’s probably better this one is gone, it was never even advised to begin with. I don’t even remember how I learnt the trick, the internet sure as hell didn’t tell me. Like everything but then, some kind of trick or rumour spread from friend to friend until everyone just knew by word of mouth. Everyone did know too, that if your game crashed or froze, blow on the cartridge a couple times, slam it back in and it usually fixed the problem. Nintendo advised against this too, we weren’t supposed to do it, but we did, and somehow it worked most of the time. The old Nintendo 64 still shares some of my fondest gaming memories, and like most Bethesda games, the problems were somehow endearing in a weird way. Let’s just hope the NX doesn’t bring that Nintendo classic back.

  1. Earning Your Cheats

carmageddon cheatCheating in games used to be hard, they were like Easter eggs or rewards hidden away. Most of them were just funny extra’s to the experience as well, after weeks of plugging away at a six-hour title, it was nice to change things up with classics like big head mode. It was less cheating and more a secret unlock to give the game some more life. There was always that one kid at school who knew every cheat too, usually bragging about it to anyone who would listen. Maybe this one isn’t a huge loss, if only to shut those people up.

  1. Going to a Friends for Their Games

lan weekend in the 90'sWe all had that friend with the game you liked, but didn’t own. Games were expensive and you were a poor kid, it’s not like steam sales existed. Most of us even had that one friend, you know the one, the kid you didn’t really like but you got on ok with. They seemed to have all the popular games and their company was a price worth paying. Regardless of who it was, we all had to make friends and actually be social to fill the time, gaming literally brought people together on weekends. Now we can just stay in our rooms, talk to people across the ocean and binge on steam sales. Not sure if that’s really a good thing or a bad thing.

  1. Renting Games as a Special Occasion

renting games early 2000'sActually going to the video shop as a kid was the best night of the week, or month. Usually you knew exactly what it was you wanted to get, and if you were me, expected it to already be gone and had backups in mind. When you did get what you were after, you usually booted up the game you find multiple saves from other people left on the game, a scared trust between save holders meant you didn’t mess with each other’s progress. Only the worse kind of scum messed with a save file, they probably grew into some kind of serial killer, or made day one DLC. It was nice knowing that somewhere out there you were almost sharing the experience with someone else. Now days I wouldn’t trust my own family with a save file, forget strangers.

Ben Stewart
Ben Stewart is a Writer, Designer and Gamer living in Australia, who spends his time surviving the wildlife while expanding his involvement in the games industry.