This weekend (Saturday February 9th) marked the first official event set up by Retro Gaming NI; a group of like minded individuals wanting to share their love of the old school games and consoles that defined the youth of those rapidly approaching (or even those above) the big 3-0, and to recapture the ethos of 90’s gaming, i.e. going round your mates house with your controller.
Retro Gaming’s first multiplayer event was all about that behemoth of N64 games; the game that has spawned dozens if not hundreds of pale imitations since coming out in 1997, a game that has probably ended friendships since it’s release many moons ago, a game that can turn even the most placid amongst your friends into a raving, violent whirlwind of swearing. Yes, my friends…it’s Mario Kart 64.
It’s hopefully the first event of many to come in the future, billed as ‘large scale gaming events’ with each event taking a different game from the past and allowing seasoned players the chance to reign supreme all over again and those just looking for a nostalgia trip to relive games from their past.
I sat down with the brains behind Retro Gaming NI, David Hammond, a man who’s no stranger to massive gaming events having held huge Halo nights in his time, to ask him a few questions about this inspired idea and his love of (retro) gaming as a whole.
So David, what made you think of starting this venture?
It all came out of a conversation I was having with a few friends. We had access to a clubhouse, and were thinking of events we could host. This was one of them. I was so excited at the prospect that I went on eBay that night and started buying extra controllers.
Why do you think people are so fond of this era of games?
Think about your career as a gamer, and when you peaked. If like me you probably have some disposable income, but very little spare time, you tend to buy a number of games and play them only a little. 10 – 15 years ago that was the complete opposite way around, meaning you could play each of the few games you owned inside out. We could also argue that games designers at the time were more innovative, with a focus on gameplay. Add into the mix that multi-player gaming had just become viable at this time as well. These are the reasons that consider this era as the ‘golden age’.
Do you think this kind of gaming (a group of people sitting around a TV (or a projector, in this case)), community gaming if you will, has been lost with the advent of online gaming? Was that a factor in starting Retro Gaming NI?
I think this mode of gaming has certainly dwindled. Community gaming has changed, and we are able to connect with and game with friends over the internet though many channels – which is no bad thing! I still think that the best gaming experiences are with your friends in the same room. You get all the expressions and non-verbal communication that an Xbox Live headset just doesn’t pick up. If I hit someone with lightning in Wario Stadium just before the jump, I want to see their face as they drop from first to last! If we weren’t starting events like this with Retro Gaming NI, I would probably have been arranging something similar at home, just on a smaller scale.
What is your favourite retro game from your own personal collection?
Oh, my all time favourite game is Super Mario World for the SNES. I get all misty eyed just thinking about it. The end credits theme music always gets me.
What other games can you see headlining future events? (Please say Mario Tennis)
We are hoping that fans of Retro Gaming NI will provide us with some suggestions. Mario Tennis was a great game, so we could do something with that. I think Bomberman would do nicely as well. I recently discovered that the Sega Saturn version can handled 10 players at once! I’m also thinking about a ‘mixed martial arts’ evening where we would compete across a number of retro fighting games such as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. I’m also toying with the idea of a decathlon style event.
What’s your big hope for Retro Gaming NI?
I just hope that we can live up to the nostalgia and give everybody a great time. These games are masterpieces and deserve respect. If we can build an audience, perhaps we’ll book out the Waterfront some day!
How can people find out about any future events you may be holding?
Thanks for the plug JC! (Not a problem – Jonny) You can keep up to date with us by liking our Facebook page. Just search ‘Retro Gaming NI’. We try and post there fairly regularly, and all event information can be found there.
Big thanks all round to David for the interview and for setting up this glorious venture. I certainly did not come last. No siree, not me, nope, no chance.
(I came last)