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Classic Video Gamer

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Classic video gamers live for low-tech video games of days gone by. They love games invented way back in the '80s -- before all the advances in graphics and sound.

This is a Fathom cartridge for Intellivision systems. It is prized by classic video gamers as it is a very hard item to find.
Courtesy of: Steve R's Classic Cartridge Page

Some of the most popular golden-age games are Space Invaders and Joust, a game where a player flies on a bird and tries to dismount other players. Remember Pac Man, the little pill-munching orb? He's still popular in classic video game circles, too.

"Back then, the games had to rely on really good game play to keep you entertained because they didn't have the graphics and sounds that games today have," explains gamer Roger Earl.

Video games come in three types of packages: computer games, home console and arcade. Computer games are complex and full of simulations. Home consoles are simpler to use, often just home versions of arcade games. Arcade games are designed to be short and addictive.

That's what bothers some classic gamers about new "next generation" video games. Arcade games now are short and have to be continued by plugging in another quarter. In older games, if you played well you automatically earned extra time.

"Another crucial quality of older games is the integrity of high scores," says Craig Pell, a gamer.

A high score used to be a mark of genuine achievement, because the only way to get an entry into an arcade game's high score table was through skill and endurance. "Now, of course, a high score is an indicator of the size of someone's wallet," he says.

Most people envision a video gamer as a reserved person who doesn't like to interact with others. However, many gamers say they enjoy meeting and playing with other people who share their hobby.

Many video gamers join clubs to share their favorite games, try new ones, discuss the various merits of games and meet new people.

The number of people playing video games is difficult to estimate. Millions of games for home machines and computers have been sold, but games can be played in arcades, too. It's estimated that most people under the age of 25 have tried playing a video game at least once.

Video games are played in arcades, on home consoles and on home computers. Some people play them in the office too, but that's not always recommended -- or even permitted! Some avid collectors even have coin-operated arcade games in their homes.

In the past decade, interest in arcade games has been decreasing while the home market has been increasing. In more recent years, the arcade market has rebounded thanks to the latest games.

The video games market is growing overall, especially in the computer games market.

The cost of equipment varies with the type of game that you want to play. Classic home consoles are the cheapest, generally costing $15 to $50 for the machine and $1 to $4 per cart.

Classic coin-operated machines (the type usually found in arcades) can cost between $50 and $1,000. The price depends on the game and its condition.

Standard home consoles sell for $100 to $150 for the machine and $50 to $100 per cart. New home consoles cost $300 to $500 for the machine and $50 to $100 per cart. New coin-operated machines cost $8,000-plus.

One of the reasons video gamers collect classic games is that they are cheaper than new games. It's also a challenge to find older games.

"Let's face it," says Earl, "rummaging around flea markets and thrift shops in search of nostalgia is kind of fun."

Playing video games doesn't require much physical strength, but the games do test your hand-eye coordination.

It's possible to be injured playing video games. Some games can induce seizures in people prone to epilepsy. Others can cause dizziness, nausea and eye strain.

Some people have experienced repetitive strain injury. This occurs from using one muscle over and over again and consequently injuring it. Wrist injuries are most common.

"Not many people are affected," says Earl. "It's much more present among professional computer users."

It's possible to get a related full-time or part-time job if you are interested in putting your interest in video games to work. Computer programmers are in demand today, and games programmers are sometimes considered the elite in the field.

"If a game player can learn to program, he can put these two skills together and make a very good living indeed," says Earl. People will usually need another skill to combine with their love of video games (such as graphic design) in order to make a living.

For non-programmers, there are jobs available in arcades. Video gamers can also test games for companies. Both of these jobs usually pay minimum wage.

Getting Started

According to enthusiasts, sometimes half the fun of classic video games is in locating them. They recommend you search second-hand stores, flea markets and garage sales.

Video gamers buy magazines to keep them informed about what's new in the video world. People also use the Internet to view and talk about oldies and goldies.

Whether you're into classic or new games, they are fun when you can play with -- or compete against -- others. It's also fun to be able to discuss game strategies with other video game buffs.

Joining a club or a newsgroup is a great way to make friends and learn about different kinds of games. It gives you a chance to try other games and get tips for finding new ones.

Collecting classic video games is much easier on the pocketbook than collecting new games. Sometimes you can buy 15 classic games for the price of one new one!

Remember, some arcades have banned people from carrying lists. With lists, even the weakest player can beat the best by using memorized moves.

But you won't have to worry if you're a classic video gamer. In most of these games, you can't memorize moves -- except for "cheats" in the odd game, and we won't tell you which ones!


Video Arcade Preservation Society


Classic Video Games Book and Periodical List


The History of Home Video Games Home Page
Dedicated to home video games

Top 100 Computer Companies
Find the manufacturer of your favorite game

Arcade Links
Lots of links to public, personal and commercial sites
Everything from the Newbie Guide to the CD-ROM of the week

Her Interactive
This company is creating the next generation of female gamers with the game Nancy Drew

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