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Author Topic: Analysis of Retro Gaming Culture  (Read 2583 times)

Spooniest

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Analysis of Retro Gaming Culture
« on: January 26, 2021, 09:04:38 pm »
Well, it all started when Gawker Media pissed off Peter Thiel...

But that's not really why I'm here today. I used to read kotaku to scratch my itch to read about, think about, and generally chew the fat about the various aspects of gamer culture through the years.

However, of late it's focused a lot more on sports current-gen gaming releases, and I'm hunting around for articles to read about the old days. I thought I'd start up a thread here, for people to drop links to articles about 70s-90s gaming culture both at home and abroad (whatever those terms might indicate to the reader).

But for the sake of it being a quoteunquote 'discussion thread', and since RHDN is home to many aficionados of classic gaming, I guess I would ask, how would you characterize the period of video gaming before the turn of the millennium? What was the experience like for you? Did you read GamePro, Ninentdo Power, or EGM? When did you get internet and no longer have to look up cheat codes in magazines?

Begin.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2021, 09:52:59 pm by Spooniest »
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Jorpho

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2021, 10:18:14 pm »
Yup, I still got my Nintendo Powers stashed away. It was always surprisingly difficult to find on newstands for whatever reason.  I like how, as the commercial jingle used to go, it really was the "news that you could use".  If there were some bits that people just weren't going to figure out on their own, they could be learned that way – and you could figure out the rest yourself.  Or through talking with friends, or maybe the occasional BBS.

I think the big decline of Nintendo Power started when games switched to 3D and they couldn't just fill everything up with pretty 2D maps anymore.  And things got worse when they started inserting ads.  It did not need ads.

On that note, some guy with a Twitter account is doing an astonishing job of amassing original Nintendo Power art lately.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYZKniAI4PGeC1_ShXCNIjw

I remember around 20 years ago before every single site had its own message board, websites would still have "mailbags", where people designated "editors" could look at the messages people sent in over the week and write out thoughtful responses.  I still have my archive of "Ask Dan" from Nintendo's website.  That, too, was fine and good.

I remember Nintendo's early website and how they enthusiastically played up in the magazine that there was a database on the website now where you could look up cheats! Only it barely worked.  Eventually they just threw in a big drop-down list of every game they had a cheat for and let people select things that way.
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FAST6191

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2021, 10:35:46 pm »
Too poor/thrifty for magazines, or if I did have a magazine then it was computer shopper instead (had PC game demos on game CDs, less on games as a thing and more on PCs). Various friends might have the odd one on a birthday or something, as might I (think I still have the copy of pc gamer when they reviewed carmageddon) but for the most part none and same with comics really but that is a different different discussion. The Sunday paper would also have a game section in the TV guide. Not a great thing but what they managed to pack into a few words impresses me to this day, even if I might not be said to have properly taken the lessons from that.


Channel 4 teletext. Digitiser at first, game central after that when digitiser stopped.
Some of the same people behind it have a new site on https://www.digitiser2000.com/ and it has some archives of their old stuff.
http://www.teletext.org.uk/index.php?cat=30_Archived-nbsp~Pages&page=41_Digitiser-nbsp~1995-1998 for other archives.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTHGiWxH6ZE could cover some stuff on its history.

Would also watch TV shows. Saw many of the UK efforts in the end but the one that stood out above all was gamesmaster
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKBNzjgN_hk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeSoTeYr8qQ
The main host (ignore the Dexter Fletcher series if you want) does the occasional thing still as well.
The N64 spot linked there (there were some others too)... I was late for dinner that day and remember it to this day.


By the time I got online (just after the cut off there) it was probably http://www.gamerevolution.com/ at first, today a shadow of its former shadow's shadow. Can try the archives though and at the time I was mostly there because they had a reasonable take on emulation and some good articles. That would have been the library in town at the weekend or maybe during school (though 20 minute blocks monopolised by kids emailing relatives in distant countries meant not much got done there). Would also have been around then I discovered emulation, though in this case it was from a burned CD (an impressive thing at the time) of megadrive ROMs and a copy of genecyst from a computer fayre (other friends had a SNES version but I played less of that, and even to this day there are many SNES classics I have not played).


If anybody then wonders why I am generally an irreverent and tactless disrespectful bastard when it comes to dealing with the game industry... well it was probably an inevitability but a diet of that sort of thing growing up did not hurt at all on that front.

Today it is probably also why https://www.youtube.com/user/BitHead1000/videos?disable_polymer=1 is one of my favourite video channels on old games. Takes a while to get into but once there (you can pretty much pick a point and start as well if you want).


Experience wise. Lack of information. Playground, skate spots/parts, bored adults in the game shops (were some local, some chain) that were not inclined to talk to kids, relatives if you spoke to those and not much else. Rumours that could not be debunked easily, lack of knowledge of what is out there (even more so being PAL country, and Japan being even more opaque than it is today if you don't speak Japanese) where today I regularly play data harvester with entire libraries of games and info on them.

Naniyue

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2021, 11:23:00 pm »
  I grew up during the golden age of video games, so I've experienced quite a lot of gaming culture over the years.

  As far as pre-millenium/1990's gaming goes, it was for me a time of great change.  While 3D graphics did exist, such as with Atari's S.T.U.N. Runner years earlier, we were still used to mainly sprites.  The nineties were wonderful for gaming, as looking back now, we were reaching greater heights, both graphically and in terms of storage capacity.  Then the Saturn and Playstation hit the scene, truly bringing 3D to the masses.

  Thankfully, I studied in Japan in the mid nineties, right when Saturn and Playstation were really taking off, and 4th gen games were still available at good prices, except maybe some SNES/SFC games that still commanded a hundred dollars.
BOY did I stock up on Turbo/PCE CDs!!!!  ;D :D :laugh:

  The sad thing was the decline of family friendly arcades.  Even at the end of the nineties, we knew their time would soon be up. Fortunately, I discovered a traditional, long standing arcade close enough by, and I don't mean that Dave and Busters nonsense.

  I guess I've rambled on long enough, though I do want to add one more thing:

   Do any of you remember owning an Atari 2600, then getting an NES, marveling at the new style of controller?

PresidentLeever

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2021, 09:07:07 am »
I remember around 20 years ago before every single site had its own message board, websites would still have "mailbags", where people designated "editors" could look at the messages people sent in over the week and write out thoughtful responses.  I still have my archive of "Ask Dan" from Nintendo's website.  That, too, was fine and good.

Retronauts still does this sometimes!
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MysticLord

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2021, 08:40:20 pm »
Gaming culture is one where optimality is sought after in completion of activities that are surrogates for achievements that aren't available to on in real life... though they might be some day.

Left-wing critics of gaming culture are absolutely correct in their perceptions; however their praxis is very poorly thought out given that the culture itself is built around overcoming obstacles at the least cost. They're basically training an emergent collective consciousness in how to defeat them, not unlike how the Proud Boys taught Antifa how to fight and win (YMMV). Grit + Oyster = Pearl.

The consequences of this when it's turned towards other ends - like speed-running the stock market while hedge funds hot-patch exploits in real time, min-maxing the dating market, or 3D printing things that are illegal in most of the world using cheap and commonly available materials - are reliably "disruptive", in the Silicon Valley sense of the word. Everyone loves "creative destruction" until it's their turn on the chopping block.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2021, 08:48:13 pm by MysticLord »

Jorpho

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2021, 11:31:59 pm »
Gaming culture is one where optimality is sought after in completion of activities that are surrogates for achievements that aren't available to on in real life... though they might be some day.
The same could easily be said for sports in general or even for artificially structured debate.
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Spooniest

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2021, 11:49:37 pm »
Specifically THE area of pop culture specifically surrounding the playing and enjoyment (or lack of enjoyment as the case may be) of entertainment software, I. E. "video games."

Please don't words lawyer my topic, MysticLord.
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SunGodPortal

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2021, 01:48:00 am »
Gaming culture is one where optimality is sought after in completion of activities that are surrogates for achievements that aren't available to on in real life... though they might be some day.

Left-wing critics of gaming culture are absolutely correct in their perceptions; however their praxis is very poorly thought out given that the culture itself is built around overcoming obstacles at the least cost. They're basically training an emergent collective consciousness in how to defeat them, not unlike how the Proud Boys taught Antifa how to fight and win (YMMV). Grit + Oyster = Pearl.

The consequences of this when it's turned towards other ends - like speed-running the stock market while hedge funds hot-patch exploits in real time, min-maxing the dating market, or 3D printing things that are illegal in most of the world using cheap and commonly available materials - are reliably "disruptive", in the Silicon Valley sense of the word. Everyone loves "creative destruction" until it's their turn on the chopping block.

Speak of the devil! The politics thread is back. ;D
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Spooniest

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2021, 03:50:01 am »
Speak of the devil! The politics thread is back. ;D

Quote
“It is you who are unpoetical,” replied the poet Syme. “If what you say of clerks is true, they can only be as prosaic as your poetry. The rare, strange thing is to hit the mark; the gross, obvious thing is to miss it. We feel it is epical when man with one wild arrow strikes a distant bird. Is it not also epical when man with one wild engine strikes a distant station? Chaos is dull; because in chaos the train might indeed go anywhere, to Baker Street or to Bagdad. But man is a magician, and his whole magic is in this, that he does say Victoria, and lo! it is Victoria. No, take your books of mere poetry and prose; let me read a time table, with tears of pride. Take your Byron, who commemorates the defeats of man; give me Bradshaw, who commemorates his victories. Give me Bradshaw, I say!”

“Must you go?” inquired Gregory sarcastically.
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MysticLord

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2021, 05:36:41 pm »
The same could easily be said for sports in general or even for artificially structured debate.
Sports is limited by biology, chemistry physics, the attention span of the audience, and a host of other things.

Gaming - and Computer Science which birthed it - are focused on optimality both abstract and concrete. Look at the applications of network failure cascades, which range from neuroscience to shipping, for a good example.

Specifically THE area of pop culture specifically surrounding the playing and enjoyment (or lack of enjoyment as the case may be) of entertainment software, I. E. "video games."

Please don't words lawyer my topic, MysticLord.
I don't think proper-noun Pop Culture exists anymore. There are certainly cultures, many of them are popular, but the monoculture wrought by radio and TV is dead and gone.

It's weird that this has happened while subcultures have largely disappeared. The last scene I remember was the emo thing, the tail end of which was in the mid 2000s. Before that you had all kinds of stuff, now the only scenes that remain are those related to shall we say "relational/identity preferences", and then gaming as a catch-all for everything else.

The previous mass communication eras dating from just before WWI to the mid-2000s were unprecedented in all of human history, until then there were only regional cultures and maybe a mild cosmopolitanism (compared to today) one found in port cities and bureaucratic capitals. But now the subcultures of those eras are gone, or greatly diminished and popular only among people that aren't likely to pass their enthusiasm on to new generations.

Why did gaming culture subsume movies, books (literature to a degree, but especially pulp and féerie), television, and large swaths of the early internet?

Besides that, what effect does training the youth in generalized optimality seeking techniques have on the rest of society?

Anyways, I'm just noticing things about gaming culture in relation to others that pique my curiosity, if no one has any insights into it I probably won't respond for a long while.

Jorpho

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2021, 09:48:25 pm »
Sports is limited by biology, chemistry physics, the attention span of the audience, and a host of other things.

Gaming - and Computer Science which birthed it - are focused on optimality both abstract and concrete. Look at the applications of network failure cascades, which range from neuroscience to shipping, for a good example.
What? Sports are limited by the arbitrary rules of sport.  Like how they got rid of those full-body compression suits in swim competitions.  Or like how the batter can't walk up up the pitcher and start clubbing him, and so on.

If you're going to bring attention span into it, then I can't imagine how computer gaming should somehow be immune to that.

I meant to link to Wired's video about what is apparently encouraged in many legitimate high school debate forums now.
https://www.wired.com/video/watch/high-school-debate-at-350-wpm

But this is all not particularly related to what the OP was getting at. 'Cause, y'know, a message board thread is another case "where optimality is sought after" under conditions that aren't available in "real life".

Quote
It's weird that this has happened while subcultures have largely disappeared. The last scene I remember was the emo thing, the tail end of which was in the mid 2000s. Before that you had all kinds of stuff
I think that's mostly a result of taste-makers and trendsetters being in relatively unassailable positions of power.

Quote
Besides that, what effect does training the youth in generalized optimality seeking techniques have on the rest of society?
Are you familiar with perverse incentives? Those were a thing long before video games came around, and continue as such in fields unrelated to video games.
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Spooniest

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2021, 11:10:21 pm »
MysticLord, you are carrying this thread wildly off-topic, and I am beginning to suspect that you are doing it on purpose. Staaaahp.

I did not mean for this thread to be an analysis of all pop culture or the concept of culture itself. Please save it for your sociology thesis.

Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals was a weird little blip on the 90s gaming scene. It was a made-for-tv original video animation (OVA) that was a sequel to the story of Final Fantasy V. I actually got rented the videos from Blockbuster back in the 90s, when I was a boy, and I got my kicks! Of course, this was back when anime was largely still just a subculture of nerdy weirdos (like myself) who weren't satisfied by what the west had to offer. Gaming mags gave us tastes of it in sections which examined games that hadn't come out in America, and a simple trip to a video rental store could scratch the itch it gave.

In this OVA, the Grandfather of a girl named Linaly (who I am not sure the English Dub ever names) gets a disturbing reading about the wind, and sets off to the Temple of the Wind to examine the Wind Crystal. If you've played even the first 5 minutes of Final Fantasy V, then you are familiar with this plot setup. However, what got by me when I was a kid (and had never yet played FFV) was him saying:

Quote
Stay at home?! Me, the descendant of the valiant Batts, who fought and defeated Exidees, Lord of Nothingness??

He means Bartz, and Exdeath, but clearly the translation was purely phonetic, as they didn't seem to have any frame of reference. However, Queen Lenna does make an appearance, and strongly resembles Lenna from the game, though it is unclear if this is indeed the selfsame person, or one of her descendants (the OVA takes place after a 200 year timeskip since the end of FFV).

I hadn't really seen tons of anime up to that point, and LotC was ok in my book. I ended up seeing Akira soon after that too, and that was a heck of a trip.
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SunGodPortal

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2021, 11:43:53 pm »
I don't think proper-noun Pop Culture exists anymore. There are certainly cultures, many of them are popular, but the monoculture wrought by radio and TV is dead and gone.

May or may not be off topic at this point, but I just want to say: THIS!

And sorry Spooniest, I have to expound on this because it's something that's been gnawing at me for years.

I've tried to make this argument to so many people on numerous occasions and they just looked at me like I was spouting nonsense when I just KNEW that was not the case. Being someone born in the 80's, teen years in the 90's and early 2000's, the signs were clear. I vividly remember the annoying and constant prevalence of HUGE trends. Nearly everyone dressed the same and had the same hair, just with variations on a theme. Broad strokes, i know, but culture was painted in broad strokes back then. Every few years the things that everyone were obsessed with would fall out of fashion and then everyone would migrate to another mega-trend. Now everyone one has total access to anything and everything and is "free" to make their own style rather than be co-opted into what the "market" told you was "cool".

As a life-long outsider, to those days I say goodbye and good riddance. :beer:
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Spooniest

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2021, 12:07:02 am »
May or may not be off topic at this point, but I just want to say: THIS!

And sorry Spooniest, I have to expound on this because it's something that's been gnawing at me for years.

I've tried to make this argument to so many people on numerous occasions and they just looked at me like I was spouting nonsense when I just KNEW that was not the case. Being someone born in the 80's, teen years in the 90's and early 2000's, the signs were clear. I vividly remember the annoying and constant prevalence of HUGE trends. Nearly everyone dressed the same and had the same hair, just with variations on a theme. Broad strokes, i know, but culture was painted in broad strokes back then. Every few years the things that everyone were obsessed with would fall out of fashion and then everyone would migrate to another mega-trend. Now everyone one has total access to anything and everything and is "free" to make their own style rather than be co-opted into what the "market" told you was "cool".

As a life-long outsider, to those days I say goodbye and good riddance. :beer:

I never said I disagreed; just that it was off topic. I agree, of course.

But that basically makes us all outsiders, by the terms those cultures defined. However, the ironic thing is that this has always been the case, whether these cliques acknowledged it or not. We are all, in a way, absolute monocultures of one.

However, that makes it hard to have a discussion, or for anything that you create (or any creations we might examine) to have any meaning, because discussions must agree to some sort of definition of what a thing is, in order to happen.

So now that I've shown that yes I do read philosophy, I wanted to talk about games.

Or you can just say that all discussions are meaningless and go all Kefka Palazzo on it... Sure ok
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SunGodPortal

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2021, 12:52:08 am »
Spooniest being his beautiful, spoony self. :)

I appreciate you providing your insight on the (off)topic despite your obvious reservations. You added another philosophical layer to it.

But anyway... yeah. Back to games.

I remember getting something like a GamePro in the late 90's that had tons of cheat codes. I remember it having a ton of cheat codes for PS1, SNES, etc., some articles and I think that may have even been the magazine I had where there was a section that had a couple hundred "mini" reviews of SNES games (maybe more systems), if I remember correctly. I read that thing endlessly. (or was it an issue of EGM?)

Unfortunately that was one of the few gaming magazines I was able to obtain at the time. Since we had come through a lot of financial hardships due to various tragedies my parents rarely had money to spare on such trivialities for a few years. What little money I was able to scrounge up on my own during those days went towards used games from pawn shops, CD's and some new guitar strings on occasion.

As for gaming from before the turn of the millennium (I interpret that as 95-00), I remember it being a very exciting and innovative time, but oddly it's games from that specific time period that I find to feel the most "dated". The fonts, the graphic design of the menus and the horrendous appearance of "early" 3D graphics.

Then there's the lack of development of many newer genres at the time that are now fully fleshed out and bog standard with regard to features and depth of gameplay. That part doesn't bother me quite as much except for when I play an RPG for example and have no choice but to either waste supplies because I have no idea what something does or must consult a FAQ (which I hate doing and only use as a last resort).

You also have some instances of the music or controls feeling outdated. I distinctly remember that being the era when various types of games began being filled to the brim with crappy "pop music" for lack of a better term just for the sake of hijacking the game and using it was a commercial (much like every TV show and movie these days - cue final scene when some sappy indie song slowly fades in and goes to full volume as one character walks away - roll credits).

Then you also have games like Streak: Hoverboard Racing that are so hilarious 90's that is just hurts. I remember playing this at a (let's call it, for the sake of sparing the illegal details) "party" about 2 years ago and we just couldn't get over it and were laughing out loud the entire time. LOL

Ah... Memories. :)

EDIT: General edit.
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Spooniest

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2021, 01:19:43 am »
I appreciate you providing your insight on the (off)topic despite your obvious reservations. You added another philosophical layer to it.

Daughter: I was reading that "On The Road" book by that author, Jack...whatshisname...
Mom: Kerouac.
Daughter(shocked): Mom...?
Mom: I read.

I remember getting something like a GamePro in the late 90's that had tons of cheat codes. I remember it having a ton of cheat codes for PS1, SNES, etc., some articles and I think that may have even been the magazine I had where there was a section that had a couple hundred "mini" reviews of SNES games (maybe more systems), if I remember correctly. I read that thing endlessly. (or was it an issue of EGM?)

This sounds like one of EGM's annual buyer's guides, which would do a general look back at the preceding year's games, along with often having awards given out for the bests (and some joke awards for the worsts). I do recall that some years, they ended up integrating them into a late-year issue. Or, it could have been a similar deal with their largest competitor, GamePro, yeah (or maybe even an issue of EGM2). It's possible I might be able to track down the issue, if it was an EGM Publication... was a subscriber back then. Pretty familiar, tbh.

new guitar strings on occasion.

You play? That's cool, man. :)

As for gaming from before the turn of the millennium (I interpret that as 95-00), I remember it being a very exciting and innovative time, but oddly it's games from that specific time period that I find to feel the most "dated". The fonts, the graphic design of the menus and the horrendous appearance of "early" 3D graphics.

You mean you didn't like Perfect Weapon?

(...)cue final scene when some sappy indie song slowly fades in and goes to full volume as one character walks away - roll credits).

This reminds me of one of The Lonely Island's first SNL Video Shorts, "The Shooting (aka 'Dear Sister')." It parodies the hackneyed type of production you speak of and is practically a dead-horse meme by now, but I only recently discovered it.

Then you also have games like Streak: Hoverboard Racing that are so hilarious 90's that is just hurts.

I feel the same way about the Road Rash/Skitchin' subgenre of games. The 90s got really weird really fast. Lol.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2021, 01:26:30 am by Spooniest »
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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2021, 06:28:10 pm »
The thread title is a bit misleading, no?

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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2021, 07:14:03 pm »
The thread title is a bit misleading, no?

You're supposed to read the whole first post of a thread I thought, but fuck me, what do I know
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Re: Analysis of Gaming Culture
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2021, 01:29:36 pm »
You're supposed to read the whole first post of a thread I thought, but fuck me, what do I know

Just call it "Analysis of Retro Gaming Culture", and voila!