Creating the Retro Gaming Experience
To me, sitting infront of a flat screen TV using some emulator and a wireless controller didn't really provide me with the best Retro Gaming experience. When I first tried playing the old games I used to love on emulation, it just felt empty and stale. I wasn't sure why at first, then it hit me.
When I was playing the games, I was looking for that nostalgic experience. I wanted to relive the memories of my youth. Unfortunately emulation wasn't sparking that nostalgic memory. I needed a true Retro Gaming experience.
I learned then, there was a difference between just playing a retro game at home and actually "experiencing" home retro gaming. I kinda compare it to the experience of playing one of the new Arcade One-Up machines in your house compared to actually going to a real (retro) arcade. Both experiences are extremely different even though you're playing the same game. So it's the atmosphere that plays a big part in contributing to the experience.
(I needed to bring the atomsphere back)
So a few years ago I decided to create my own Home Retro Gaming experience by creating a retro gaming nook. I had a small space in the corner of my garage to use as a template. This would take a lot of patience and hunting. Though I had plenty of Atari stuff in my collection, I still needed to hunt out the decor I needed for this retro nook.
To sit down somewhere and feel like I went back in time. The act of playing on a old CRT TV, being restricted by cords. The earthy tones of the wood paneling. The simplistic decor of the late 70s/early 80s of my youth. To design something that took me back in time would offer the true experience.
My first pick-up was this 1977 Sony Trinitron with matching TV Cart:
So during the next year-and-a-half I combed eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and local thrift stores. I not only needed the right decor, but I needed it cheap (I didn't really have much of a budget). Once I accumulated enough stuff to make my design reality, it was time to begin. I decided to dedicate a small corner of my garage for a retro corner.
I started with the wood paneling. Luckily, many of the home improvement stores still carries wood paneling for very cheap. After getting the wood paneling up, it was only a matter of laying the carpet down and putting the pieces in the place.
When all was said and done I only spent around $300 to complete this project. A lot of the cost savings came with patience. waiting to find the right stuff for the right price without overspending (For example, the TV and cart I was able to pick up for $30).
Here was the end result.
The final Retro Nook came out better than I imagined. Sitting in this corner playing my Atari, I almost thought I was back in 1983. Even the copper colored wing-back chair was the same chair we had a 1983 (my family never had the heart to get rid of it). People have to remember...... Back in the early 80s, most home decor were still from the 70s (unless they recently remodeled).
Add a little stale tobacco smoke to the nook to complete the Retro Gaming experience😂.
For the rest of the year I often enjoyed disappearing in my little gaming area to relive some of my nostalgic memories. At times my kids even joined me. It was great to show my children how "dad" played games when he was a little boy.
During the next summer I decided to do a redesign of my retro corner. I wanted to make it a themed corner, as well as incorporate one of the old cabinet TVs that I have.
I have always been a fan of playing original hardware on original hardware. So I have multiple CRT TVs that my children and myself use. I do have a few cabinet TVs and I had one in particular I wanted to use for my new "themed" retro corner.
Here is a old cabinet TV I have in my bedroom. It's the TV I used most of the time before I designed my retro corner.
Anyways, since I wanted to redesign my retro corner I decided to do it themed design. I decided to go with a Q*Bert theme which was one of my favorite Retro Gaming characters.
It took a while to gather all the stuff I needed for the redesign. I already had an old 1970 zenith cabinet TV I wanted to use, but to find the right Q*Bert themed decor was a little challenging (more specifically the wall art). Then I found the perfect piece. A Q*Bert latch hook rug became available and I just had to have it. I was also able to acquire a orange wingback chair for $20.
Here is the final design......
This Q*Bert themed design I was extremely happy with. I decided to get rid of the table to bring back the good ole days of having to sit on the floor to play. Coincidentally enough, I finished this design right around Halloween.
I actually had a old early 80s Q*Bert costume (one of those old vinyl Collegeville costumes). My son decided to humor me and put the costume on so I could do a Halloween photo. I tried to use an aging filter to make the photo look a little less "high def". I'm not professional photographer so I did what I could with my cell phone, lol
Here was the end result.
MY 2020 DESIGN.....
In 2020 I decided to shrink up the design a little. To make something simpler, and to design a area that would mimic a image you would see on a Atari Ad. I used a different TV for this one (1984 Zenith). One of the best parts about having this retro corner is being able to spend time with my kids introducing them too the early gaming experience. Due to Covid-19 and spending a lot of time at home, we were able to spend a lot of time playing games together.
All in all, creating a authentic Retro Gaming experience is relatively inexpensive and you only need a very small space. Playing these games takes me back to a simpler time. For some reason I find it more enjoyable playing on my retro setups then I do behind a computer screen or on some other type of emulation.
The feel of the carpet, the act of inserting the cartridge, the smell of the TV tubes, the sight of the wood paneling, and being restricted to the limitations of technology all help contribute to the overall Retro Gaming experience.
This is what I remember, and I find myself actually enjoying playing these old games more as I disappear in my time machine.
The summer of 2020 I came across a old 1979 Sony Trinitron. I decided to do a very quick redesign to include that TV, as well as using my Space Invaders wall art I've been holding onto for a while. After I was done my children's school went to "virtual learning" due to the Coronavirus. My kids decided to turn my Retro Nook into a Virtual Learning Battle Station, (where old technology mixes with new technology..😂).
I'll end with one last photo. My most recent setup that I may use if I decide to redesign my Retro Corner in the future. It's my 1976 Zeinth gaming station.
It's been a blast having this little retro gaming corner. In the past 3 years I have been able to spend a lot of time in my retro corner playing my old Atari with my kids (and creating awesome memories). Hopefully someday I will be able to dedicate a entire room to the simplicity days before the internet. The days before the constant bombardment of social digital stress.
Thank you for reading my blog