“Please!! Can I have a go now??!!” Reluctantly my older brother and his friends finally yielded to my pleads. It was his 18th birthday in 1985 and the Commodore 64 was in action with Impossible Mission loaded up from a cassette tape. I walked towards the TV, I glanced to my left getting inspired by the Bruce Lee poster on the wall. “I can do this!” I valiantly said to myself. I grabbed the joystick and then came the stark realisation I had no idea what to do. I was just happy to touch the joystick to be fair. “Go up, go up!” Everyone shouted at me. Being 5 years old I didn’t quite understand what that meant. Up to me was upwards above my head. So I started to pull the joystick above my head. Unsurprisingly the character on the screen did nothing, laughter ensued and everyone’s patience gone. The kid had his chance, now the real boys can get back to gaming. That was my first experience of video games, and I fell in love. Granted I didn’t actually do anything but seeing the sheer excitement of everyone, I wanted to have fun to. Soon after and the years passing I played for hours on end on the Commodore 64, then the Amiga. Getting neck ache staring at a screen, throwing the joystick on the ground in frustration of losing right at the last moment, rolling of eyes to change disks for the millionth time, although none of these factors deterred me. In fact it was part of it. My first ever dedicated video game console was the PlayStation One. I worked everyday after school and on weekends, juggling school work and sports. Saved up all my wages and finally bought one. My own console and I adored it. Every spare minute I could find, including when no one was using the TV, I was on it, losing myself to virtual worlds, stories and finger cramps.
Fast forward to present day I haven’t really played video games for at least a decade. Growing up happened. My son. Family. Work. Travelling. All grown up stuff but awesome nonetheless. However when the world came to a standstill with the Coronavirus pandemic, it was during lockdown my inner kid started to scream himself out. I pulled out my old consoles, including my beloved PlayStation, fixed them, hacked them and started to experience my old games. Revelling in nostalgia, a close friend asked me why I was focussed on the past and not look for the new. Laughing away I responded its just a bit of fun and something to occupy my time. However it did make me think. Was it just nostalgia or something else?
Reflecting back on what else I had been doing not only just during this isolating time and spending more quality time with my son. I realised it wasn’t just retro gaming I was enjoying. It was also old Bollywood movies from the 70s and 80s, building Lego in front of my bookcase of old comic book collections, the music on my playlists were rarely anything recent, just to name a few examples. All of these things were not just to relive old experiences but more often than not, I found it also an enabler to live a new experience that I didn’t have whilst growing up. Having had a blessed childhood, with loving parents and siblings, I was of course not short of the important things in life, namely peace and love. Practically one cannot have everything as a kid. A premise I’m trying to explain to my son as he asks for more time on his iPad. As a grown up with modern technology, greater accessibility along with some disposable income, you can attain the things that you could not in your childhood. This is one of the reasons I’m fascinated by anything retro, as I believe we all have the inner child within us that we can spoil.
Aside from tuning into the material, there are other, just as important reasons for the focus. Celebration, remembrance and somewhat educational. I grew up watching some pretty cool dudes and women in movies, listened to music that still make me nod my head to the beat, read stories that even now as hairy grey haired man make me emotional. Times have changed, yet the innovation, passion and style from the years gone in my view cannot be matched. All of these things defined who I am today. Knowing and looking back at them in turn also helps define the future. I know if you’re a millennial or younger generation reading this, you won’t have a clue what I’m implying. The elders among you will and probably smiling right now. You see being from Generation X, we are packed in between Boomers and Millennials. Being in the middle means we are probably the most stressed. We are caring for young children whilst also our parents. We are in middle management, we are in the middle of world crisis’ everywhere, where the old just don’t give a shit and the young are not empowered enough to make a change. We have the blessing of being around during the times of both analog and digital. We know and accept what life is like without the internet and a phone that is just well a phone. This blessing in turn enables us to take full advantage of both and applying it the today. Especially within digital transformation and communication. As a result we show a mastery of leadership, strategy and successful execution. Being in the middle, we are also natural empaths and able to connect to all. In times of today where prejudice is taking many different forms, we still have time to make it somewhat easier for the next generation. Basically, we got this.
Is this all from a love of retro? Maybe the leap and link is too great. Maybe I’m just trying to justify myself. Maybe it’s closer than we realise. All the same, I will continue to explore the past, if only to ensure the future. At least that’s my excuse for another round of Pac Man. Peace&Love.
Just for fun, check out my video on my Retro Gaming set up!
Having over 15 years’ experience in freight forwarding and supply chain management, Ali has led numerous multi-disciplined projects and operations globally. A change management specialist having worked within multiple industry verticals. He is also a coffee-obsessed, solo-travelling introvert.
Ali is also a published author with is latest book; Building Your Bridge: An Introvert’s Art of Success. A personal journey to help guide professional introverts to realising that as an introvert, the skills and traits for success are already within their grasp. Available now here.