Retro Gaming Relived: The Cradle of Aviation looks back at video games of the 20th century

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By Jordan Boyd and Noah Buttner

Mario reached world eight, Link returned peace to Hyrule, and Little Mac finally K.O.’d Mike Tyson.

Beating these games for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was and still is no simple feat and thanks to the Cradle of Aviation Museum, Long Island can play them all, without any of the hassle.The museum exhibit, titled “From the Arcade to the Living Room,” running now through December, offers attendees the chance to play every system from the Atari 2600, to the Playstation.

“All art forms—all culture, really—evolves from what came before it. Games are no different, Dr. Ian Bogost, a national expert on gaming at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said, “the serious study of any creative form should include engaging seriously with its history, but that’s harder with games, because it’s harder to play old games once the hardware disappears.”

These retro consoles, though old, are coming back into the fold and not only as collector’s items. Nintendo’s recent NES Classic Edition, a miniaturized version of the original console complete with 30 classic game that retails for $60, has been hard to find with units being resold on ebay for up to $5000. Comparatively, for $10, the Cradle of Aviation has every system from 1977 to 1999 on free play mode, an experience that Long Island game designers consider integral to creating the games of today.

“These games are great games not for their nostalgia factor, but for their well developed mechanics and worlds,” Tom Grasman, a developer at Good Enough Games and Long Island native, said, “My favorite console by far is Super Nintendo. There was nothing ground-breaking about the console itself, but many of my all-time favorite games are exclusive to it. I try to keep these games in mind when working on my own.”

Video games are evolving at an incredible rate and they continue to shape our culture. “It’s shaped the lives of 2 generations in a way that can only be compared to the advent of television,” Leroy Raymond,  co-founder Long Island Retro Gaming Expo, said.

Today’s games such as Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild tend to focus on graphics and visual spectacle, but they lack replayability. “You could have the most impressive graphics available on the market today and be forgotten tomorrow,” Grasman said.

As video games move closer to augmented and virtual reality, it is necessary to look at previous failures in the industry so that history doesn’t repeat itself. “Games that interact with the open community, not just the players, I think that that’s the next big innovation,” James Cohen, a Games Studies expert, said.

Long Islanders interested in retro video games should make their way to the exhibit. The museum will be holding an 80’s arcade night on Saturday, April 22.

About the Author

Noah Buttner
Noah Buttner
Noah is a junior English and Journalism major specializing in New York Literature. As a tutor at the Writing Center for more than two years, he has worked closely with undergraduates, graduates, and international students and has particular experience with textual analyses, literary analyses, research papers, thesis-writing, grammar instruction, argumentation, topic sentences, and brainstorming/outlining.