Intoxicated by the pixels: why teenagers are now playing retro games like “Pac-Man” and “Super Mario”.

“We’re going in”
Intoxicated by the pixels: why teenagers are now playing retro games like “Pac-Man” and “Super Mario”.

Classic games like “Super Mario World” are back in fashion – even among younger gamers

© Franziska Gabbert / DPA / Picture Alliance

It’s not just series fans who are succumbing to the retro charm again thanks to the fourth season of “Stranger Things” – retro games are also very popular with gamers. Nostalgia is only one reason: many young people are also discovering the pixelated video game heroes.

You rarely see them standing around somewhere, the classic arcade machines. However, most of the bulky blocks have long been gathering dust in cellars and attics or have been scrapped. But their spirit lives on: Classic games from “Donkey Kong” to “Pac-Man” to “Street Fighter” are still very popular.

Four million gamers in Germany are enthusiastic about retro games. That is more than a third of all gamers. This is the result of a new representative YouGov survey commissioned by game, the association of the German games industry.

Children and pensioners gamble alike

How can video game classics still hold their own against action-packed multiplayer hits like “Fortnite” or complex blockbusters like “Elden Ring”? “It’s the simplicity, the clarity, the original idea of ​​​​these games – and not that everything is a mishmash, where you are taken by the hand and everything is somehow the same,” says retro expert Patrick Becher, one of the operators of the game -Museum Retro Games Club in Hamburg.

Nostalgia alone cannot explain the trend. Several generations meet in the Retro Games Club. “We thought it would be a retro games museum for men aged 30 or 40,” says Loesch about the founding in 2020. “In fact, we really had children here who didn’t stop playing. We had pensioners who haven’t stopped playing.”

The gaming study supports the observation: among the 16 to 24 year olds, 40 percent of those surveyed already state that they are interested in retro games. Interest increases with age.

The retro trend is also evident in the sales figures: three million gamers use original consoles and games. Some discover devices that are much older than themselves. But the new editions of classic consoles from Sega and Nintendo or home computers like the Atari are also in vogue. 2.7 million players use the new hardware with the familiar look.

There is more about retro games in the current episode of the gaming podcast “We’re going in”. The hosts Janina Hille and Tim Pommerenke visited the Retro Games Club in Hamburg and talked to Patrick Becher about the museum project and the unbroken appeal of classic games and consoles.

AudioNow / wue

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