How to use nostalgia while developing video games? Did you remember one of the biggest announcements of the 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo? Yeah, it was about a re-make of Final Fantasy VII, a game that has been gaining millions of players for 18 years. That millions now aged above 30 are the largest audience for the video game developers.
How does it work?
Many psychologists believe that the icons of our past represent the symbols of a simple and carefree time, a time when people just began to develop their own values and understanding of themselves.
According to the research published in the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) by Dr. Maria Garda, a nostalgia appearing in retro game design proves the statement that the video gaming industry is “a mature art form, the masterpieces of which evoke reflective longing”.
Jamie Madigan, an expert in the psychology of video games, believes that nostalgia is at its highest level when a person encounters something related to his/her socialization from the past.
During the last decade, in addition to multiplayer mode there have been created tons of so-called “Let’s play” videos on YouTube and thousands of accounts on Twitch (the platform which was acquired by Amazon for more than $1 billion). And all of this is believed to be a strong marketing tool where a nostalgia is one of the most important components.
Due to the trend, the game development studios used to take various elements from the age of aesthetics and mechanics which were initially created because of the severe hardware budget and limits.
How does it make money?
To make video games popular the creators easily invest millions of dollars in the development and promotion. When it comes to a really huge budget, many developers believe, it is not always a good idea to justify a brand new concept. That’s why they are looking for something that has been tested by time. This strategy normally works failure-free: millions of gamers around the world were happy to play Halo 5 and Metal Gear Solid V, as well as dozens of other re-mastered titles.
On the dark side, there are a lot of creators who work with low budgets. They also don’t hesitate to use nostalgia in video games. In this case they use not only similar concept, characters, and gameplay overall but also similar quality of graphics and physics. It might seem strange how such kind of games attract people but first ask yourself: would you like to play any of your first 10 videogames with some improved features on your modern device? You will be more than happy, right?
When you start thinking about nostalgia in videogames you realize than any game (which is in the process of development) can become its material in the future. However, it doesn’t mean that any game which was popular for a certain generation will be a hit in the next one or two decades. You need to take into account not only the hierarchy of the most loved games from childhood or young age but also modern trends and technologies.