7 Signs You’re a Living Piece of Gaming History

Dave Parrack 10-08-2013

Video games are an older form of entertainment than many people realize. They can be traced all the way back to 1947 when a patent for the “Cathode ray tube Amusement Device” was filed. Then came Spacewar! in 1961, Pong in 1972, and Space Invaders in 1978. From that moment on video games have enjoyed some level of mainstream acceptance.


This decades-long history is why people of all ages now play video games. It could be argued that more titles are targeted at adults in their 20s and 30s than are aimed at teenagers, because you don’t generally stop playing video games as a result of growing older.

I’m in my mid-30s and still play video games, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. However, it does mean I’m something of a dinosaur, having lived through multiple different hardware generations and having seen the industry evolve into the sprawling success it now is.

Is it time I, and others like me, gave up playing video games? There are definite signs to look for when determining whether you’re growing too long in the tooth to still be gaming. Seven of which are listed below. You’re likely to be a living piece of gaming history if you remember when…

Games Came On Cassette Tapes

7 Signs You're a Living Piece of Gaming History video game cassette tape

Cassette tapes have been consigned to the dustbin of history by all by the most hipsterish of hipsters 7 Great Websites Poking Fun At Hipsters Hipsters, or scenesters as they're sometimes called, are a sub-culture who want to be different. At all costs. That longing to be different has now come full circle, where it's actually the norm (or at... Read More , and I suspect younger gamers will find it hard to believe that video games once came on cassette tapes. Cartridges, CDs, and Blu-rays really have spoiled these innocent young’uns.


There was a certain appeal to playing games on cassette tape though: the sounds made when one was loading up now fill me with nostalgic joy, and it meant sharing games with friends was much easier than it is now. I’m not sure I’d welcome these things back if it meant also accepting those long loading times, however.

Button Bashing Was King

7 Signs You're a Living Piece of Gaming History retro games controller

Fighting games and sports games are now fine-tuned to sort the wheat from the chaff. You’ll either be very good at one of these titles, or stand no chance of winning. And yet there was once a time when anyone could succeed, and all they had to do was mash the buttons in as random a fashion as they could muster.

To be fair, you still get modern games which let you button-bash your way to victory. Developers still haven’t worked out a better way to implement Olympic Games events than making you press two buttons in quick succession, as just one example. However, at one point the majority of games could be won by a combination of luck and button bashing.


Sonic Vs. Mario Was Bigger Than PC Vs. Mac

7 Signs You're a Living Piece of Gaming History sonic and mario

The PC vs. Mac battle is raging as hard as ever, even though Apple itself appears to have backed away from the aggressive advertising campaign An Apple (Ad) A Day: Top Ten Commercials You’re Likely To Remember Apple is a company that you either love or hate; there's very little middle ground. This is because you either buy into the company and its culture or reject it outright. Seeing as I don't... Read More . But 20 years ago the equivalent of PC vs. Mac was Sonic vs. Mario, or to give them their full titles, Sonic The Hedgehog vs. Super Mario.

The characters were polar opposites, the games they appeared in appealed to different sets of people, and they also lived on different systems, Sonic being Sega’s mascot, and Mario being Nintendo’s. I was always a Sonic fan, but even I have to admit Mario The Origins & History Of Mario [Geek History Lessons] An Italian plumber created by a Japanese artist somehow became one of the most recognizable characters on earth. Featured in over 100 games, it's hard to imagine Nintendo or even video games without this mustachioed... Read More won out in the end.

2D Gave Way To 3D

7 Signs You're a Living Piece of Gaming History 2d 3d minecraft


With the supremely impressive visuals on display in modern video games it’s hard to remember a time when even 3D was too big a task for even the newest gaming hardware to handle. Play any game released before the mid-1990s and it will be in 2D, and back then it was all us gaming pioneers knew.

Games such as Alone In The Dark, Virtua Racer, Final Fantasy 7, and Mario 64 led the way in changing our perspective from flat 2D plains to atmospheric 3D vistas 3 Video Games That Did The Best Job Of Moving From 2D To 3D [MUO Gaming] Some video games stand the test of time. Sure, they may have started as 2D games, but they were able to evolve and get with the times. There is, and always will be, a place... Read More . Interestingly, 2D games have made a resurgence of late, with indie and mobile titles showing how it should be done.

Mortal Kombat Was The Height Of Controversy

7 Signs You're a Living Piece of Gaming History mortal kombat cosplayers

There have, for a long time, been suggestions that video games are somehow harmful to society. I personally don’t buy the argument, in the same way that I don’t think listening to death metal or watching Scarface is going to turn anyone into a monster. But this connection has been used as a form of word-of-mouth viral advertising over the years.


The first game I remember as being highly controversial was Mortal Kombat. Here was a beat ’em up in which each bout ended with a fatality that saw one character pull off a special move that finished their opponent off in a gruesome way. Looking back now Mortal Kombat seems very tame, but in the early-90s it was as shocking as video games got, and was banned as a result Top 10 Video Games Banned Somewhere In The World Read More .

Multiplayer Meant Playing People In The Same Room

7 Signs You're a Living Piece of Gaming History multiplayer gaming

All of the major games consoles available at retail now connect to the Internet. In fact, doing so is seen as a prerequisite to offering gamers the full gaming experience. The online multiplayer elements are often a main focus of a developer’s attention, as they know this is where most people will spend the majority of their time playing the game.

However, something has been lost in this switch to online multiplayer; it has made the very notion of playing against someone sitting in the same room as you novel and alien. The Wii brought it back to some extent, but in reality the days of split-screen multiplayer action have disappeared into the past.

Games Were A Challenge To Complete

7 Signs You're a Living Piece of Gaming History game over screen

Last but not least is the difficulty levels of modern games when compared to the games of yesteryear. The occasional game is still released that will leave all but the most hardcore of gamer weeping into the remains of their smashed controller 7 Video Games So Hard They Will Make You Want To Throw Your Controller One of the major staples of old school video games is the incredible difficulty. I've talked about the level of challenge in older games before in an article about the things I miss most from... Read More , but generally speaking games are now easier than they ever have been before.

This is mainly due to the change in scope and scale of video games. You can now expect to play for 20 hours or more through the single-player story mode without seeing the Game Over screen. But back when games had a limited number of levels, the difficulty, and chances of getting beaten into submission, were ramped up to save the average gamer from completing a game in record time.


I feel quite old after all that. Probably because I am old. But I don’t think I’ll be giving up gaming just yet, mainly because I enjoy it too much. The good thing is that the industry is maturing with me, so more games are being developed with people of my age in mind. So all I can do is wear my living piece of gaming history badge with pride, and suggest you do the same.

How long have you been a gamer? Do you remember the olden (golden) days of gaming with happiness or do you think the modern day titles are better in every way? Do you miss any of the things associated with gaming several decades ago, or are you looking forward to the advances the next-gen consoles will bring? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image Credits: Rob DiCaterino, Danny Nicholson, Bryan Ochalla, Johnathan Noechel-Shunn, Post-Apocalyptic Research Institute, TenThousandCubans, Wlodi, Josip2

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  1. Bryan
    September 6, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Oh, I remember waiting a half hour to load Temple of Apshai on my C64 and hoping some random error didn't pop up. I remember playing Pong in an arcade still populated with pinball machines. Yes, I'm a gaming dinosaur and it will take an asteroid to make me stop. :) If I drop dead with a controller or mouse in my hand at 99, they'll never get the smile off my face.

  2. Johnny
    September 6, 2013 at 12:42 am

    I had a few cassettesi remember getting my first floppy and being tickled at how fast it was. Now at the young age of 60 I spend my time playing Skyrim and lookingforward to Diablo3 and trying to save the world with Splinter Cell. Don't EVER get to old to play.

  3. Aiden
    September 3, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    I remember everything but games being on a cassette tape. I do find it a bit hard to believe and cant even guess how it would have been played since it looks like just an audio tape.
    I began my gaming with the original NES console and I still love and play alot of the older games more than I do newer ones.

  4. Jimmy
    August 11, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    Been gaming since early 1980's - still have some vintage hardware & many games on cassette tape! Still gaming & enjoying the current titles ;)

  5. Lisa O
    August 11, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    I remember everything starting from the second. Not old enough to play from cassette tapes;) My first console is a cheap SNES emulator.
    Personally most of my favorite games are from the first Playstation era, late 19's to early 00's, but it's very biased and laced with nostalgia. Even till this day I prefer 2D graphics. Fortunately I grew up just in time that game developers started to innovate a lot with gaming.
    I'm with you with the last. Difficulty certainly has dropped. How many kids nowadays will believe you when you say you have to start all the way from the beginning if you lost all your lives in SNES-era Mario?
    And one best part of gaming was exploring and discovering secrets! Back then it was just us, and a few of our friends laughing at easter eggs found in misadventures. We were so proud when we beat that one boss. There was no internet, let alone GameFAQS. Yet we managed!
    Same-room multiplayer brought more organic interaction and fun than today's multiplayer IMO.

  6. Rob
    August 11, 2013 at 2:56 am

    I can remember playing the original pong arcade game as an 8 year old and thought it was the bee's knees. The 80's still hold fond memories of hours spent wasted in video arcades, although I was more of a Galaxian fan than Space Invaders.
    I still play today when I get time, although it's mostly mobile phone and tablet games - a quick 5 minute fix or so. The PSP gets a workout every now and then, usually when travelling. I think I'll only stop playing games when I'm dead. However, one the projects on my to-do list is to build a Raspberry PI arcade emulator, and relive the glory days!

  7. Besian C
    August 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    good old times :D

  8. Ryan S
    August 10, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    This article gave me goosebumps to see some of the old photos. We had Space Invaders in our garage back in the 80's. We would charge the kids we didn't like a quarter to play. good times!

  9. Howard B
    August 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    "...Mortal Kombat. Here was a beat ‘em up in which each bout ended with a fatality" You really had to work to find the right button combinations for a fatality (usually by buying a gaming magazine or book), and the computer opponent pulled off a fatality perhaps once in twenty times, so not *every* bout ended in a fatality.

    • Besian C
      August 10, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      your right :D all the mystery and fun about fighting games was the moves :) always starting to master one character and find the common combinations of the game and then go to the find the special ones :)

    • matt fahringer
      April 3, 2019 at 4:40 pm

      I remember my friends telling me the fatalities and how to do them. nowadays I just look them up on line. but back then hearing it from friends or finding out on your own was something special