Nostalgia - desire to return home or to a happy place and time. In order to return to something you have to have been there in the first place.
Playing Atari for the first time today isn't nostalgia, it's a curiosity, an enjoyment of something, a first experience and whatever you attach to it. You can think it's nostalgia, but it isn't because it's the first game you're first now playing. Nostalgia must be slow cooked, aged, simmered.
But if you play Atari today then years later it can be nostalgia. Nostalgia is kind of like the honeymoon period of a relationship. You can still be in love with the person you are with and even love them more but you still chase after that original high of when the relationship was new.
And there are many other things that define and shape 70's and 80's videogame nostalgia. The atmosphere, the culture, and all the side experiences surrounding the videogame. Not just THE game itself. It's inextricably intertwined.
Couldn't that make an exception to the above? For an example, someone experienced that atmosphere but missed out on experiencing Atari then and only knew about it. Then today they play it for the first time but it triggers the emotions of that atmosphere that they miss. Wouldn't that still kind of be nostalgia for Atari? Maybe not in the sense of reliving the experience but in a sense of living an experience for the first time that they longed to experience for decades that they missed out on back then?
It's also interesting and curious. The formative age of games (for those who have been there at their heyday) may have been a few short 5 years, arbitrarily say 1978 though 1983 for example (it can vary). Maybe shorter. But those concentrated years seem much longer and stretched out today. Especially as the memory fades through the ages and only the most prominent details remain. And the time expands and engulfs you. There will be a time when you can only remember the rumble of the tank engine in Combat. Or the bleep and bloop of Breakout. All the culture and ambiance, the faces, too, fade as the years go by..
I think what you are describing is how as we age the years start to seem shorter and shorter. That is because this year will be a smaller percentage of your life than last year was, the year after this will be a smaller percentage of your life than both of those years were, etc. and then once you are living your 100th year that would be only 1% of your life which compared to now may feel like a week.
Since I was born in 81 the pre-crash years I experienced feel very long. My grandparents on my dad's side lived in Ohio while we lived here in Indiana. So, they only came for special occasions like birthdays, holidays, and maybe just an occasional visit. I called them Granny and Papaw but on my mother's side it was Grandma and Grandpa. I thought back then there was a difference. It feels like I saw Papaw a lot. I remember saying,"Papaw!" a lot, I remember knowing exactly who he was the moment he would enter the house from being so familiar with him, I remember his presence and how it was much like my dad's with things like dad getting kicked out of the "man seat" and having to sit on the couch with the rest of us kids, him doing things like whispering in my ear to go smash a thing of Legos my older brother built and then my brother crying about it, me being his favorite because I look just like him and my dad, the way he liked to dress, etc. It felt like years and then he died. Long enough that I loved him and still miss him. It felt like a decade. I remember them putting him in the ground and when Granny was placed next to him in my 20's the graveyard looking as I remembered it even though those were the only two times I was there. I remember my parents being heartbroken because my mom was pregnant with my younger brother when he died and they wanted him to see him born. I remember him being born, what he looked like when they pushed him up, me being the first to point out and yell with excitement,"I have a Chinese brother!" then everyone laughing because on my mother's side they have those kind of eyes but are unsure of the origins but always joked about being Chinese and thought it was cute that I got the joke, I remember when mom came back home with him how my dad would clean out her wound from the c-section a few times a day, them explaining that is where he came from, me thinking c-section was the place instead of the operation something like,"The water in mom's belly where we come from is the Sea Section.", during those few weeks that mom was home she allowing me to hold him once, and I gave him this talk about how I'm his big brother, he is my little brother, and what I think that all means which I thought was "the talk" I was required to give because I remember my older brother once doing the same for me.
But the thing is Papaw died when I was 2 1/2 years old and my little brother was born two months after I turned 3. So, it was only 3 years of experiences but it felt like a decade. And the memory described earlier of dad bring home the Vader was somewhere around there and it feels like another decade of memories of just having that until my older brother got the NES for Christmas when it launched. We were all excited, he plugged it up, and then when dad and I saw the controller we both looked at each other with a confused look while knowing what we were both thinking without speaking a word which was,"WTF is that?! It is all buttons and a lot of them! Where is the joystick?! He got us all hyped by explaining that the present he wants is like the Atari, Mario is like Pitfall!, etc. but what is this?! It looks like our VCR with a remote instead of a controller!" Dad never got over it and hasn't been a gamer since but my brother figured out how to convince me. He just had to hand me a gun that at the time felt as big as Dirty Harry's and tell me to blast some ducks. That was some VR entering the world of Tron shit right there! I had a gun that could shoot magical bullets into the TV that would really kill video game ducks and then a laughing dog could actually look out of the TV to see that it was me that did that! Mind blown!
The brain churns it over and over like a madman stuck in a fuge. Confused and wondering what's happening. Like being stuck in a secret room in Doom with no way out. You're pushing walls and running in circles. Scrutinizing every detail, whether it repeats itself or not. Getting +25 health is like picking up a MIB CIB NIB cartridge. It's all refreshed and the cycle begins again.
That's what happens to collectards. Going too far into nostalgia is a serious disease.
I think I would be a collectard with or without nostalgia. When I imagine getting rid of it all with a home with just the basics it seems very boring and I would feel lost. I would feel like there isn't really anything to do at home and would have to go out all the time. Then once I realize I can't find anything to do out of the house that really interests me other than party to numb me of the boredom I would probably take up pot. Then I would be a home body again on a forum about bong collecting talking about which kind of bongs to use, how to set up the atmosphere with things like lava lamps, the rituals, the right music, etc. about what is the authentic experience of getting high. Then after finally getting busted I would get rid of it all and then take up video games.