Which was the real “Golden Age” of the 1980s?
I’m not a fan of the term “The Golden Age of Video Gaming” – a term that is used in a number of films, podcasts and books to describe one particular era of gaming. Many use it to attach to the early 80s alone, as if gaming somehow went downhill from there.
I’ve been around for all of it, from Pac-Man Fever to the new celebrity-filled Call of Duty trailer. Every single era of gaming has a few true classics, several rock-solid games, countless clones and sequels and a truckload of shovelware. You can’t tell me any one era was any different… it’s only in hindsight that the great stuff is remembered and the bad stuff is forgotten.
The way I see it… the 1980s world of video gaming is divided into two very seperate “Golden Age” periods… if, that is, that you don’t consider any one of a number of later eras, including this one, as the “Golden Age of Gaming.”
From 1980-1983, video games were the hottest thing going. Arcades were everywhere, every type of retailer seemed to carry console games and systems, cartoons were spawned, licensed products appeared left and right, you name it.
Then it hit the floor. The middle of the decade saw video gaming as notable only for how badly the market fell from grace. They were called a passing fad while companies and arcades closed up left and right.
Same rule applies to 1987-1990, though. Thanks to the push from Nintendo, the NES brought the industry back. The result saw people return to arcades, every type of retailer seemed to carry console games and systems, cartoons were spawned, licensed products appeared left and right, you name it.
What I’ve noticed is that a lot of the biggest fans of one of these two portions of the 1980s never saw the other one. Perhaps that’s why they seem so unaware of each other. The fans of the early 80s stayed there… and the fans of the later 80s didn’t return to gaming… they learned of it for the first time.
So I’ll toss it up here, folks… which era do you think is most deserving of the “Golden Age” title (at least for this particular decade)… the early 80s era that boomed then busted… or the later 80s era that brought it back for a new generation?