What we did back then - that we don’t do today


Retro Gaming - What We Did That We Don’t Today

I was born in the late 1970’s so that makes me a child of the 80’s & then a teenager of the 90’s. Some call us generation X others call us Thatcher’s Children but what fun I had especially with my gaming back then.

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(Pictured - Darren Cater with some of his retro computers & consoles)

We all look back with fondness at our retro gaming days gone by & I’m sure we will continue to do so but these were fun times & when you think about it there was quite a few things that we did then that we would no longer do today!

Now before I explain further let me tell you a little about myself. My first gaming memory would be discovering & playing the Star Wars arcade game at a young age (probably in Great Yarmouth). I also remember playing Ghostbusters at a friend’s house on a Commodore 64. This would be my first home computing experience & I immediately wanted my own Commodore so parent pestering ensued. Fast forward to Christmas 1986 & I got my first home computer which was an Acorn Electron!

I still don’t know to this day why Dad decided to go with the Acorn Electron, but after 3 years of struggling to get what I considered at the time to be good games, I eventually got a Commodore 64 for Christmas 1989.

It was a revelation being able to buy games from wherever we went as a family rather than the odd few Electron titles. In 1990 a NES was added to my collection which started a habit of regularly getting new machines at every occasion possible (Birthdays & Christmas mostly). But what this meant was that in the late 80’s & early 90’s my love for gaming boomed!

Retrogame Collection 2

So what did I do back then (and possibly you also reader) that I now don’t? Well let’s have a think:

Buying Cheap New Titles

I’m talking the great budget labels that we had on the home computers like Mastertronic & Codemasters amongst others. These guys provided original titles for £1.99 or £2.99 & often produced better quality games than the full priced bigger licenced games.

Could you possibly go to your newsagent nowadays for your Sunday paper & treat your kids to a cheap computer game. Newsagents & Woolworths were 2 of my main sources for budget titles & pre internet what a selection of titles we had to choose from. Cassettes are long gone & nowadays it takes more than a few guys programming together to produce a video game. Unfortunately these days are gone.


These big events seemed to take an age to arrive back in my younger days. They often involved getting a computer, console or games which weren’t easily affordable on a few pounds pocket money. Especially cartridge based games for your Megadrive or Super Nintendo. Nowadays I seem to celebrate the New Year & the next thing I know Christmas is being planned again plus if I want something I can usually get it now I’m not a child who had to negotiate/earn rewards. Of course though back then I didn’t have to justify my buying intentions to a spouse (luckily my wife enjoys a bit of retro gaming but sometimes the kids do need shoes). I have money & I can now spend it (mostly) how I like.

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Pile Round a Mates House

Picture the scene you’ve just got in from work your dinner won’t be ready for a good hour or so. So what do you do you jump on your mountain bike or BMX call on a few friends & all pile round someone’s house who has a Xbox game that nobody else has. You get in as much gaming as possible before racing home to be just about on time for your fish fingers & chips. It doesn’t happen surely does it? If you are over 30 & it does please do let me know.

Surround Someone with the Latest Games Magazine

When I was at school I religiously read Mean Machines as well as CVG. I’d pass the town’s newsagent on my route to school so I could pick these magazines up (pocket money permitting) on my way to school or on the way back. This would often result in my mates surrounding me & the new issue I was engrossed in. What rating did the new Mario get or something similar would often be heard. I would imagine this may have happened to a few others back in the day but today with the internet being the main source of any news & everyone being older I’m a bit saddened to think it doesn’t.

Swapping Dodgy Games

Now I don’t really discuss gaming with anyone today other than the good people like yourself who I chat to on twitter or at the various retro gaming events that pop up during the year. Back in the day when I had a game that I didn’t really enjoy I would try to off-load on a mate in exchange for another game (probably one that they didn’t want). These trades happened now and again & I still remember gaining ‘Revenge of Shinobi’ in exchange for ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ (which I had completed many times) which had somehow become broken whilst in possession of my mate. At the time this was a result for me but nowadays do we still swap games with mates permanently with the bartering & negotiations that we did back then?


Are arcades still magical places? Certainly the set up at Play Blackpool this year was with the correct lighting & the cabinets all blasting out their tunes bringing back great memories & getting the atmosphere spot on for some arcade action. Today when I take my kids to the seaside it’s all penny pushers & tickets up for grabs with some arcades, but the proper arcade games certainly are outnumbered in these establishments nowadays.

Who remembers entering a dimly lit arcade & being hit with that barrage of noise & flashing lights? The games of course in the 80’s & 90’s were often games we couldn’t play at home or certainly not up to the same standard that you would get for the multiple 10 & 20 pence pieces we would require to play them.

Final Fight, Afterburner, TMNT, Star Wars, Street Fighter 2 to name a few were usually why we looked forward to the family summer holiday by the sea. I would love to see the old arcades I remember make a comeback. Hopefully a few more retro ones may start to appear if demand sticks.

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Playing Games All Weekend

When I was a teenager, a weekend would involve video games more often than not. If I did this today the lawn wouldn’t get mowed, my wife & children would be ignored & other DIY duties would remain on my to do list for the foreseeable future. I would end up public enemy No 1 in my house!

My role has changed & now I have a son to follow in my footsteps who quite often gets told to turn off that Wii U! My daughter’s not that fussed about gaming but she can play the piano a lot better than me.

Maybe in 30 years my Son will write an article about the good old days of gaming or more likely I’ll still be doing it but it may be called Antique Gaming then!

I hope this article has brought back some memories for you & if you feel the urge to share your memories you can find me on twitter as RetroGamerDaz (@RetroGamerDaz) or of course use this great website for more gaming memories!

Darren Cater - 2015

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