The Rebirth of Retro Gaming from a GenX Perspective (and Some DIY)


“Retro” can be used in relation to an insane variety of things. Clothes, cars, music, movies, and especially video games. Retro means a different thing for each generation. For those in their forties, retro video games mean titles played on consoles like Sega Genesis and NES, and home computers like the ZX Spectrum or the Commodore 64. The last few years have seen an unexpected revival of “retro”-looking games – just take a peak on Hotline Miami, a surprisingly pixelated (and insanely successful) top-down shooter, or any RPG Maker product.

Of course, the generation in its forties has experienced all stages of the gaming evolution. For them, real games mean Quake, Doom, and their likes. For this generation, there’s not much of a difference between a GameBoy and a smartphone: pocket-sized gaming devices are for casual games. That’s probably why so many of them try the variations of video poker at and engage in one of the many slot machines and card games they find at the All Jackpots Mobile. Of course, they are also the people with steady incomes behind them, so they often give All Jackpots a try for real. I can say from experience that Generation X-ers will never play MOBAs and RPGs on their phones, choosing All Jackpots’ casual game style instead. For us, sitting down in front of a computer – or a console – is where true gaming begins.

Alas, most GenX-ers have already given away – or thrown away – their old consoles and computers. I might still have a few cassettes with ZX Spectrum programs on them somewhere around the house, but I have no device to play them, let alone a computer to run them on. Fortunately, there are enough emulators and ROMs to go around to fulfill my needs for retro gaming. And they have prompted me to take on a small DIY project: to built a small, but functional gaming console based on a Raspberry Pi.

Alas again – I have been hit by the same issue most GenX-ers encounter at one point in their lives: being busy. My schedule is rather busy – I have a job, a wife, a kid, and two cats to look after – which leaves me with not much spare time to tend to my home-made console. I have already ordered the Pi – it’s a 3 Model B, with hardware decent enough to run the majority of the games I enjoyed as a kid, and I already identified the emulator I’m planning to use: it’s called FUSE, a free ZX Spectrum emulator that runs on Raspbian. I don’t have a case yet, so there are no photos I can share at the moment. But I’ll report back with the results as soon as I get the chance.