Nostalgia in Retro Game Design


I distinguish between two kinds of nostalgia in retro game design – restorative and reflective. The former manifests itself in ‘total restoration of monuments of the past’, while the latter ‘lingers in the dreams of another place and another time’. Restorative nostalgia is visible in the retrogaming practices, such as creation of emulators, appreciation of classic titles and remaking them for new platforms. Reflective nostalgia is more detached from the past and sees history of the medium as a set of styles, it serves creativity and artistic erudition. In the article I elaborate on the nostalgic gestures of independent game designers in games such as Hotline Miami, Fez, FTL: Faster than light and McPixel. I argue that retro games are an exceedingly heterogeneous group with different authors having different objectives and motivations.