Memories of a Retro Gamer

We spoke to Retro Gamer, Musician and designer - Andy Foster about the inspiration for his new book and retrogaming inspired song 'Memories of a Retro Gamer'

The book is available on Amazon as is the PDF and song... and all can be found at this website http://retrogamebooks.wix.com/retrogamer

Commodore 64 Format

GYL - what inspired you to write a book on your gaming life?

Andy - Well it's something that developed from writing a few articles for you actually. After doing them I got some good feedback on my writing style that was more relatable to some it seemed than the sometimes jargon heavy retro media, so I thought about pulling them together.

There's lots of books out there of incredible quality all with tech specs, design plots, interviews, and geeky inside info on various consoles documenting retro history, but there's not many covering the emotional aspect of it and the memories of the time such as the arcades, the bowling alleys, first encounters with AM2 games or 80s bedroom and school computing.

Crazy Taxi Arcade

I originally thought about gathering other people's experiences and it straight away became a difficult thing to coordinate. So I thought why don't I just do this myself, just make a scrapbook of ideas and experiences that documents a point in history that other readers can experience with me. A nostalgic collection in an easy to read coffee table format that way I can put a bit of personality in it like a theme that runs through it, tying these individual articles together.

This book isn't out there to compete with the others such as Bitmap Books, Sams books are of the upmost quality and I love them.

Mine was created with Blurb on regular paper to try and keep the cost down and is created as a kind of scrapbook of memories that if people enjoy I will do more of. It’s more about my writing and the pictures from my journey through the medium that I know people will relate to.

This is meant to be as cheap as possible, inviting and friendly! There's always the PDF to download as well if that's your preferred way of reading. I didn't want the intensity of running a kickstarter or crowdfund, and I also felt like I didn't deserve it! The Retro community have been duped too many times of late and I didn't want people to think I was claiming to be a respectable gaming journalist. My intention is innocence and purity and I hope people enjoy it!

Memories Of A Retro Gamer Book

GYL - tell us about the song and the inspiration behind that as well?

Andy - The song was a way of communicating in a way I am very comfortable with. Retro gaming has made its way into a couple of my songs of late such as with the lyric in a new song I've just recorded called ‘Arcades and Crashing waves ‘dust lays rest on Sega machines, grabbers get near the end then let go of the prize’. I wanted to capture all these tiny references and snapshots of what it was like to be an innocent childhood gamer delving into this new exciting developing media that was starting to cross over again. All those games, all those memories and so much fun. The mission statement was to write something jaunty but not too cheesy like a long unravelling of memories over a simple and accessible melody. If you don't remember those classic games there's probably not a lot for you lyrically in there, for those that do it's a treasure trove! The SFX were added for comedy value and to spark more nostalgia.

GYL - do your friends now still play videogames - or specially retro games?

Andy - I don't really have anyone close from my childhood that I can talk about retro gaming with anymore. Being an acoustic/folk musician retro gaming is something that sometimes goes against the grain of the bohemian lifestyle and still has a bit of a stigma at times. Although the latest boom towards nostalgia has brought retro gaming into the limelight and it's much more accepted at present.

This was partly why finding GamesYouLoved was such a great community to get involved with, like-minded people celebrating a golden time, almost like a club. I find the friends that do play nowadays buy into the latest generation and just play a few big franchises such as fifa or metal gear...then it gathers dust. At my age most people I know don't get as obsessed with the medium anymore but connecting with GYL and doing the RGDS Podcast it reconnects me to those classic games!

GYL - what 3 key moments in it stand out for you?

Andy - Moments in the book?...well like I said it's more articles or snapshots of memories so it's all about moments if that makes sense. The bowling alleys, Commodore Format, and silicon rendering all make me smile and trigger nostalgia instantly.

GYL - if you could have had any computer growing up which you didn't get - what would it be?

Andy - It would be out of a few, I always have a penchant for the underdog hence my love of Sega's 32bit era. The Jaguar and 3DO are fascinating machines that I've never owned but the computer I secretly loved was the Spectrum 128k +2. I think Amstrad’s re-imagining was such a beautiful design that is so 80s and perfect. I chose Commodore’s path though and don't regret that but the Speccy always has a place in my heart. A bit of me wishes I was part of the Amiga club back then as well, it's such a great machine.

GYL - name your top 3 games of the 80s and why Treasure Island

Dizzy: It wouldn't be an 80s list without a Dizzy game and this is my favourite Oliver Twins creation. It's the perfect adventure game for the 8 bit home computers.

Super Mario Bros: Perhaps an obvious choice but it's influence, game design, playability, music, innocence and legacy is unrivalled.

Outrun: Not one of my favourite games but it's influence and the fact it was so iconic to me and most gamers makes it a pillar head of 80s iconography and design.

GYL- what 3 games do you really love from childhood & why?

Andy - Virtual Racing, Dizzy, Super Mario Land 2 - 6 Golden Coins All three are pivotal games that hold dear memories for me that I document in the book. Its very hard to just have three but these games are the first that came to me when I read the question and it's because they hold significant connotations in my retro history.

GYL - if you could go back in time what 3 years would you visit?

Andy - The early 90s for sure… perhaps 92-95. It's where all my greatest memories were encapsulated, the AM2 era arcades, the tail end of the 8bits, the boom of the 16bits and the most incredible era of retro gaming technology that was the 5th generation! Absolute madness but it was fantastic to be a fan of the medium at the time, it was so exciting. It also signals the last bit of my innocence as a pre-teen and my coming of age into the mid nineties. Retro gaming is all mixed up in all those feelings and emotions of growing up and that's what I wanted the book to represent.

Sega Mega Magazine

GYL - tell us who are your gaming heroes?

I never really had heroes in gaming in the same way as I did in music. I very rarely paid attention back then to game creator names, journalists, or musicians but you obviously can't fail to know them by osmosis as I was an avid reader of ANY magazines I could get my hand on. I almost didn't want to meet the people who created these world's for fear of it spoiling the image I had created in my head.

Saying that as I get older I increasingly like listening to interviews of people from that time such as the oliver twins, Tom Kalinske, Yu Suzuki, and the Bedrooms to Billions documentary that included so many people from my 8bit past that I inadvertently admired.

Thanks GYL!

Memories Of A Retro Gamer

Great questions by the way I really enjoyed this little interview. I look forward to doing more articles for you and hope people like the book.

The book is available on Amazon as is the PDF and song... and all can be found at this website http://retrogamebooks.wix.com/retrogamer

Feel free to contact Andy at memoriesofaretrogamer@gmail.com

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