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  1. #1

    Default The purpose and significance of "Retro"

    I'm big into what is described as retro-gaming, the thing is that I dont really think of it as retro, not really, I think of it as eight bit gaming and its just a hassel that the companies which supplied to that market or the market itself are no longer in existence.

    In some respect there's nostalgia involved and also I know that if I play games which were challenging to me when I was growing up they wont always prove that challenging now because I'm older and a lot of the necessary thinking or puzzling skills I possess now are much improved on what they were when I was playing before.

    Although that's all specific to gaming and I'm more interested in retro generally and what people consider retro and what its relationship is to the present, is it just a hipsterish notion? Is it just nostalgia? Does it have anything to do with the fact that we're living in the future of yester year and all the imagined/prophesised (hoped for) innovations havent arrived and dont look likely now? Does it ever weird you out or are you surprised when someone talks about something you grew up with as "classic", "retro" etc. and do you think that its becoming a more rapid thing that films, games, books, entire genres are considered "classic" or "old" when they are comparatively recent in production?

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    Junior Member billygoat's Avatar
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    "Hipsterism" and plain old nostalgia definitely seem to be driving forces behind "retro" in a lot of ways. At least, both are good reasons for why it sells. Ultimately, though, I think these are fashions which come and go. I also think, certainly when it comes to games, that there is a certain purity in the 8-bit style especially. It can be all about the gameplay and without the requirement for a gigantic budget for graphics and sound or necessarily an evil publisher to satisfy, they can be an unabashedly niche title for a certain kind of player rather than trying to be everything for everybody in order to recoup the obscene costs of so-called AAA titles.

    I guess for me, where video games are one of my preferred mediums of entertainment (as opposed to television or film so much), sometimes I find I've really just had a gutful of everything being "gritty", "adult" or "mature" and focused on the "male action gamer" and want something with the kind of focus on fun and, I don't know, I guess innocence that a genuinely "retro" (as in, actually from the past) or retro-style game can provide. It's like a sort of detox I guess. This has appeal that is more fundamental than just a feeling that everything was better in the past, though I'll admit that is part of it too.

    It does weird me out a little that stuff becomes "classic" so soon though. A kid at work noticed an Autobot patch on my backpack the other day and started talking to me about "classic" Transformers. Naturally I assumed he meant the original cartoon and toys from the 1980s, but as he kept talking I realised that what he meant by "classic" was actually the Armada cartoon of the early-mid 2000's! Bizarre.

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    reflecting pool Typh0n's Avatar
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    I like to call repackaging.

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    Senior Member Robopop's Avatar
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    Simon Reynolds has a book that discusses and breaks down retro. In his book Retromania it basically states that our society is in a post modern phase where we have moved from production and creation to consumption. The economic analogy of production and consumption is applied to culture and music, he says that the 2000s was turning point in which music looked more to the past than creating new styles and subcultures. Reynolds states this happened earlier in the fashion industry around 1966 when after all the focus on space age designs the hippie counter culture revived late 19th century Victorian fashions, art nouveau, art deco, ect. His opinion of the '70s is that it was either heavily back looking or extension of the '60s with only punk later breaking from the immediate past.

    He really champions post-punk as a movement that was extremely forward looking and innovative, it's trail blazing years were from 1978 to 1984 after which revivalism seeped back in rock music, think of the early alternative rock in the mid '80s that was so '60s inspired like R.E.M, The Bangles, Jesus and Mary Chain, even Prince had a psychedelic phase. The major innovative movement has been rave/house/trance/techno/jungle/IDM which had it's trail blazing years 1989-1997, but a lot of music by the '90s was already becoming more retro inspired.

    Here's the top ten of the Hot Billboard 100 singles, July, 20 2013

    1. Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. + Pharrell retro '70s R&B, almost a ripoff of Marvin Gaye
    2. Get Lucky - Daft Punk Featuring Pharrell Williams another retro '70s disco song
    3. We Can't Stop - Miley Cyrus I guess this is contemporary sounding
    4. Radioactive - Imagine Dragons maybe unique dubstep rock hybrid
    5. Cruise - Florida Georgia Line Featuring Nelly country pop rock which has sounded pretty much the same for 30 years
    6. Can't Hold Us - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Ray Dalton kind of novel in a "white boy bringing hispterism to hip-hop" way
    7. Mirrors - Justin Timberlake standard pop song from him, similar to other singles of the past 7 years
    8. Treasure - Bruno Mars RETROMANIA, even the video looks dated to the late '70s
    9. Come & Get It - Selena Gomez contemporary sounding dubstep raga hybrid
    10. Cups (Pitch Perfect's When I'm Gone) - Anna Kendrick I'm confused by this!?

    As can be seen there is definitely a lot of retromania in pop music although there are what be deemed contemporary sounding songs as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Typh0n View Post
    I like to call repackaging.
    I think repackaging is good option.

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    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I'm more interested in retro generally and what people consider retro and what its relationship is to the present, is it just a hipsterish notion? Is it just nostalgia?
    The content of our environment is our previous environment.

    So in our electronic environment the content is retro.

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    Theta Male Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    I like watching sci fi movies from the 70's and 80's and seeing all the CRT monitors and the aesthetic that went with it. I actually wish there were more movies made in that aesthetic, although I understand why there aren't. It's a future that is very tactile and graspable. It looks like something that works, even though I know it doesn't. There's experimentation and curiosity present in the aesthetic, at least.

    An interesting thing about Star Trek is, given it's age, how it reflects the design trends of it's time. The enterprise bridge is supposed to represent the future, so it ends up reflecting whatever people think is the most futuristic about that time period.

    The original series sort of looks like mission control for Apollo, or maybe something you'd see on an aircraft carrier. It's almost not futuristic at all, but primitive.

    The 80's movie series has design features in common with the rebel ships in Return of the Jedi. There's whiteness and some curviness to prevent the dystopian feeling of bare utilitarianism. I suspect it's influenced by the Space Shuttle.

    The Next Generation, it sums up 90's optimism pretty well. It's not just a spaceship, it's something people live on, and it's comfortable, almost like a really nice, modern hotel that happens to be able to travel the galaxy and fight Romulans. I can't quite trace the origin of this aesthetic, but it seems to be shared with the cars of the period. Could it have originated there?

    The new movie series takes a lot of cues from Apple.... there is a lot of elegance, and there's almost the sense that the elegance is coming at the cost of function, purpose or understanding. (Or maybe that's just my feelings about Apple coming through.)


    I think retro can have appeal because of a combination of nostalgia for our past memories, and also because this serves as a symbol for perhaps the different values of different time periods. That is, perhaps we enjoy something that is retro because we enjoy something about the time period it comes from, and believe that things would be "better" if they were more like that in at least some respects?
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    Speaking of '70s and '80s sci-fi and aesthetics, what's the first movie you can think of when someone says "Think of a futuristic movie from the '70s-'80s"? Mine's Blade Runner. Pretty much the very definition of cyberpunk. The technology shown was futuristic (flying cars, artificial people) yet the aesthetic, if you're really paying attention, might not be so.

    Take Rick Deckard himself as an example. You could have ripped him out of a '40s film noir. Trench coat, collared shirt, tie. Take Rachael as another example. Sans the shoulder pads she wouldn't look out of place in '40s film noir either. She couldn't fit the trope of a femme fatale any better if they'd tried.

    Look at their surroundings. Forget the flying cars and the industrial cityscapes, look at the streets. Filled with old cars and neon signs. Neon signs? They were well on their way out beginning in the 1960s.

    Cyberpunk is filled with nods to past times. So too is punk itself. A typical late '70s punk looked an awful lot like a '50s greaser...

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    You have a choice! 21%'s Avatar
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    Retro games have a kind of simplicity to them. In a way, they are limited in what 8-bit can do, and with limited resources a lot of it is about creativity and imagination, which seems to be something that most games nowadays lack. The games themselves being simple enough and a little 'imperfect', you can also exploit glitches the way you can't with present day games. I think games were a new thing then, both for the companies and the kids who played at that time, so it's about trying things and learning things, and I believe the pioneer gamer kids also played a big part in shaping the industry. Right now gaming is kinda locked into 'tried and true' formulas, like fast food, and there seems to be a bit less freedom and innovation.

    My INFP also keeps complaining about how games nowadays are insultingly easy.
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    Theta Male Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 21% View Post
    Retro games have a kind of simplicity to them. In a way, they are limited in what 8-bit can do, and with limited resources a lot of it is about creativity and imagination, which seems to be something that most games nowadays lack. The games themselves being simple enough and a little 'imperfect', you can also exploit glitches the way you can't with present day games. I think games were a new thing then, both for the companies and the kids who played at that time, so it's about trying things and learning things, and I believe the pioneer gamer kids also played a big part in shaping the industry. Right now gaming is kinda locked into 'tried and true' formulas, like fast food, and there seems to be a bit less freedom and innovation.
    I'm not a big gamer, but I really like the sound effects in those games. They're entirely different from anything in reality, because the technology was too primitive to even approach reality. Instead they presented their own world, a world redolent of the last iteration of land-lines before being supplanted by cell phones. (Cell phones are star trek shit for sure).

    I wonder how the videogame developers how hard "too hard is." I suspect there's a lot of commercial pressure to make games easier, because they fell most people won't want to buy a game most people will give up on.



    Quote Originally Posted by 93JC View Post
    Speaking of '70s and '80s sci-fi and aesthetics, what's the first movie you can think of when someone says "Think of a futuristic movie from the '70s-'80s"? Mine's Blade Runner. Pretty much the very definition of cyberpunk. The technology shown was futuristic (flying cars, artificial people) yet the aesthetic, if you're really paying attention, might not be so.

    Take Rick Deckard himself as an example. You could have ripped him out of a '40s film noir. Trench coat, collared shirt, tie. Take Rachael as another example. Sans the shoulder pads she wouldn't look out of place in '40s film noir either. She couldn't fit the trope of a femme fatale any better if they'd tried.
    Well, yeah... people often use the word "Neo Noir" to describe the movie. It even has a Los Angeles setting like all those Humfrey Bogart movies. Between this and Roger Rabbit, the period seems to have an interest in playing around with Noir. I'm sure two movies constitute a trend.

    A typical late '70s punk looked an awful lot like a '50s greaser...
    I never thought about this, but if you ignore the hair, you're right! And punk music was about getting back to the "roots" in favor of the excess of progressive rock (I think I prefer progressive rock to punk, but I digress), I suppose. Joey Ramone or someone like that said they were trying to imitate all those songs from the 50s that were so simple.

    Also, a lot of "rock" today is very very heavily influenced by 80's new wave. Some of it is very good, and some of it is forgettable crap. I suppose that could be said of any musical trend. The Arcade Fire's latest album is filled with songs that, ignoring the lyrics, at least, would not be out of place in a John Hughes movie. Interestingly, when people imitate the 80's, no one seems to be imitating hair metal. I suppose that's because it sucked.



    It could be a lost track from the Breakfast Club soundtrack.
    [Trump's] rhetoric is not an abuse of power. In the same way that it's also not against the law to do a backflip off of the roof of your house onto your concrete driveway. It's just mind-numbingly stupid and, to say the least, counterproductive. - Bush did 9-11


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