The Nostalgia Factor In Gaming Explained

video games nostalgia retro
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What is nostalgia?

Nostalgia is a sentimental yearning for the past, usually for a time or location with pleasant personal memories. A person typically experiences nostalgia when they are reminded of a prior event. Although nostalgia is frequently connected to joyful experiences from the past, it can also be conceived of as “the recollection of happiness.” At times of sadness or distress, it may provide solace. But nostalgia isn’t just about fond recollections; it may also be about yearning for a simpler time when entertainment meant learning How To Play Bingo rather than having to be a tech genius or a time when we felt closer to others, or it can be about other things such as video games.

What factors make gaming nostalgic?

Since we engage more emotions in playing games than in playing with toys—increased sentiments of rivalry, frustration, delight and pride—games evoke nostalgia even more powerfully than toys do. In addition, players have a significant—and very memorable—chance to feel heroic and possess a sense of mastery in video game storylines, which can be uncommon in our non-gaming lives. Here are some of the factors which make gaming such a nostalgic pastime.

Older games were inaccessible

While music and literature have been saved for a long time and are frequently reissued, games were different. Unfortunately, our favorite games were inaccessible for years due to their lack of interoperability; the cartridges weren’t compatible with other systems, and older computer games wouldn’t function on more modern operating systems.

It’s rewarding

Retro gaming can elicit sentiments, emotions and nostalgia-related ideas. This is an excellent illustration of what happens when the brain’s memory and reward systems cooperate. For example, a particular smell, picture, sound or concept can return a pleasant memory. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure and salience, is then released from the reward area in the brain. As a result, retro gaming can attract those who are looking for a recognized emotional response trigger.

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It reminds us of friends

Social bonds and nostalgia sometimes go hand in hand. We are more likely to consider restoring those relationships, creating substitutes or sustaining present ones when we think about losing a social connection, as nostalgia frequently causes us to do. Most participants remembered social settings and positive relationships with others when asked to describe their most cherished recollections. We appear to be the main characters in our nostalgic memories, but a supporting cast is also frequently there. While it’s possible to fondly recall playing the original Starcraft, it’s more likely that you remember competing against friends in multiplayer or, at the very least, connecting with them on the shared experience of how you each handled the single-player campaign.

The most nostalgic video games

Since they were introduced to the general public, video games have advanced significantly and are now more sophisticated than ever. But, even while the gaming industry has a bright future, it’s hard not to miss the simpler times when we could still play our beloved NES games or use our dependable Sega Genesis controllers. So here are three games that will have you taking a trip back down memory lane.

Crash Bandicoot

The series featured a consistent, addicting formula that kept players returning for more. And no matter how often you finished a level, something always tripped you up when revisiting it.


Tetris may well be the best puzzle game ever! This straightforward game, developed in 1984 by Soviet software engineer Alexey Pajitnov, involves setting up variously shaped and colored blocks to form lines that later vanish and award points. The blocks fall increasingly quickly as you make additional lines, reaching a supersonic speed. One of the most popular video games in the world, Tetris is accessible on most platforms. Even a multiplayer version is available so that you can compete against others from around the globe. A vintage video game that die-hard gamers still play today.

Tomb Raider

Lara Croft was the hottest treasure-hunting name long before Nathan Drake of Uncharted became famous. The archaeologist-adventurer in the action-adventure game Tomb Raider is searching for a historical artifact for her business partner. The adventurer must explore numerous chambers while fending off life-or-death foes, dodging traps and solving riddles to advance.

video games nostalgia retro
via freepik

Final thoughts

New ultra-high-resolution video games are published daily, suitable for virtual reality headsets and syncing with users’ social media accounts; however, the demand for vintage games from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s is still very high. Playing classic video games is more than a mindless trip down memory lane for lonely and isolated gamers. The typical US gamer is 34, and several well-known retro gaming series has existed for 20 years or more, so it appears that Gen Xers are returning to their beloved vintage games.

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