Final Fantasy: Generation Y’s long embrace of video game nostalgia

I remember my first game marathon which lasted all night. It was 1996 and I was 13 years old. Nintendo 64 was just released and I could barely understand the amazing 3D polygon-based graphics. The only problem was that my parents wouldn’t buy one. So I did what any teenager in my situation would do – ride a bike to a friend’s house to play. His parents had rented the N64 and a few games from the local Blockbuster. I brought soda, sour straw candy, and a determination to play through the night. And we did. Her mother finally stopped the whole operation when the sun started to look through the curtains.

Those days are long gone. But for many of us born between 1980 and 1996, play remains a watershed along which we can chart our way into adulthood. As children, we immersed ourselves in digital worlds that provided an escape from homework, rules, and general adolescent anxiety. Today, many of the great signifiers of adulthood – home ownership, a retirement account, having children – it always seems intimidating or out of reach for many of us, and the game is kind of a lifeline in those simpler times.

So it’s no coincidence that as millennials watch the barrel of middle age, the gaming industry is also reaching a point of maturity. It is the one marked by a wave of retro games and video game remakes. The developers pumped millions of dollars in updating and porting classic games to new systems. Remasters rooted in the heyday of millennial youth, such as Final Fantasy VII and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, quickly became better sellers in 2020. The bleak economic outlook for my generation is lighting up video game consoles everywhere.

In fact, in the last year of the COVID lockdown, the video game industry’s revenue inflated 20%, totaling $ 67 billion in the United States, and my generation contributed to those numbers. We are more likely to pay for a game service we have to subscribe to premium cable channels. Not only do we love to play video games but, according to Nielsen, we even rush to streaming sites to watch others play them. Millennials may have a hard time buying homes, but like scholar Sean Fenty Put the, video games have created “digital homes that gamers aspire to return to”.

The nostalgia for video games has become a marker of the identity of my generation. Older millennials, a micro-generation stuck in the analog-to-digital divide that separates Gen Xs from younger Gen Yers, have been dubbed the “Oregon Trail Generation. It’s a fitting nickname because it refers to a classic video game. I remember playing Oregon Trail on Apple II. Getting back to those pixelated green Conestoga wagons and dysentery deaths, we have to worry about paying off student loans or feel like our generation is stuck. first level.

The retro gaming craze is a millennial anxiety metric, born from a generation that comes of age in multiple crises and wants to experience something familiar and stable.

John S. Huntington is professor of history at Houston Community College in Texas. His first book, “Far-Right Vanguard”, will be published in the fall. Follow him on twitter @johnshuntington.

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