The generational gap in gaming is nothing particularly new and has existed since the very first titles were released for the very first consoles. Each new generation has its own star game, console, and way of engaging. Gaming remains fresh through this constant flux of tastes and trends. But sometimes these trends come back, as we have seen with retro games – although they weren’t retro once upon a time. The current trend is for competitive gaming, or eSports. But is there a way for arcade and retro gaming to live in harmony with eSports?
One of the main concerns as a new and shiny style of gaming comes into prominence is that the older ones will be left in the dust. But not everyone in the younger generation of gaming wants to play Fortnite instead of Crash Bandicoot. The modern style of mass multiplayer gaming doesn’t appeal to all and some prefer the predictability of a platform game. Both styles of gaming have benefits but both are actually very similar.
eSports has expanded into the physical world as much as arcade games once did (and, thanks to the arcade renaissance, still do!). For instance, a new eSports gym will be opened in the Tokyo Metro. As well as a space to play competitive video games, it will also feature courses on being a better player and coaching by professionals themselves. Users would pay a monthly membership to access the facilities. For many, this is reminiscent of arcade bars and clubs, which allowed people to visit and play arcade and retro games.
But eSports goes one further than the retro games of the past and has a more competitive element to it. Rivalry’s options for betting on League of Legends matches are an example of a measure of teams’ notoriety as professionals – a team has achieved a lot when it reaches the point where spectators can bet on the outcome of matches. Like a physical sport, bettors would take into account information about previous matches, about the players themselves, and about the game in general in order to bet on certain games. While arcade and retro games remain competitive – there are leader boards and unofficial tournaments – they weren’t able to achieve this level of legitimacy that eSports has.
Modern forms of gaming don’t exist in the silo of sitting down and playing. They are talked about in social media communities, they are filmed and streamed and can earn their players money. Had the trend for social media and live streaming been around in the days of arcade gaming, they too would probably have been streamed. Modern gaming reflects the ways we interact with gaming as much as the gameplay and content itself.
Many would credit arcade gaming and the early retro games with where eSports is today. The evolution of playing solo and then showcasing your skills to others came with the very first machines in the 1980s and has continued to grow as technology allows people to share their gaming abilities. Sales figures for remakes and remasters, as well as long-standing franchises such as Pokémon and Mario, show that as much as people enjoy the shiny and new, they appreciate the origins of gaming.
With each passing year, more people will drop off from gaming. That is, they will not buy or engage with anything new and will instead, when they play, stick to the things they like. Similarly, each year new people will fall into gaming and will usually choose titles and styles of gameplay that are currently popular. This means that those who appreciate retro gaming and arcades and those who tap into the latest trends remain in equilibrium. It is this equilibrium that keeps gaming so successful.