Why Modern Games Reflect the Lasting Influence of 80s Culture

While we’re admittedly a little biased in our appreciation of '80s culture, there’s no denying that there are many parts of this decade that have stood the test of time. From movies to music, social conventions, gaming consoles, and more, there are countless aspects of the fluorescent era that remain popular to this day.

A prime example of this is the myriad of games in the '80s that went from somewhat popular to outright phenomena. With examples from both physical and digital media, the continued influence of these games is undeniable, but it's perhaps not as obvious as we tend to think.

The Games Staying Strong

Before looking at the influence of the past, we need to understand how games of the past exist and operate today. To do this, we'll be looking at two primary examples, bingo and video games. In its most developed form, the contemporary bingo game operates in the online space. Here, users can play bingo for real money on a range of titles like Reel King, Cash Cubes, and Rainbow Riches. These cover the bases of low to high buy-ins, aided by different themes, and include chat functions.

Video games, on the other hand, are much broader in their forms in the modern-day, with an enormous variety of genres and graphical styles. From AAA first-person shooters to low-budget indie platformers, this modern market is worth billions and is enjoyed by players all over the world. From these descriptions alone, it might seem like video games and bingo have little connection to the '80s, but from the right perspective, we’d argue this is absolutely not the case.

Expressing the Eighties

The '80s weren’t just another decade on the way to post-millennium madness, they were an expression of our collective hope for the future. It was a time where rapidly evolving technology planted the seeds of what would become the digital age, as home computing became achievable on a mass scale. Even our clothes of the time were futuristic in intent, forward-thinking into what collective culture assumed would come next.

It's in this intent that we build the bridge between games like Super Mario and bingo in the '80s and the modern day. At the time, these systems were necessarily limited, but this doesn't mean they were stagnant. As they had done in the time since their inception, bingo and video games leaned into timeless aspects, but these were filtered through the lens of their time.

Still suffering from the old cliché of being an "old person's game", bingo in the '80s looked forward, embracing the most standout elements of '80s culture. At the opposite end of the spectrum, video games in arcades quickly became favorites of players in their 20s. For both this meant bright colors, it meant music and callouts related to the pop culture of the time and, most importantly, it meant understanding the importance of social collaboration and competition.

Past the '90s and whatever you want to call the '00s, the method of playing these games might have changed, but the contributions from the '80s remained a crucial aspect in their evolution. Both are still seeing success through looking to the future, and both center on leveraging the best technology that time has to offer.

Perhaps even more indicative of the continued involvement these games have with the '80s is the enormous number of titles that involve an 80s theme. In video games, this has appeared in the popularity of pixel art games like Shovel Knight and Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon. Back in bingo, nights that lean into the clothes and references of the era are often the most popular that venues host, even for players who never experienced the time themselves.

"VaporWaveWP3Print" (CC BY 2.0) by Ke7dbx

While it can be tricky to determine exactly which components of modern games come from the '80s and which are more general continuations, there’s no denying the effect that this time had on the entertainment industry as a whole. Whether you played back then or are a newcomer to the various gaming arenas, keep in mind how far we’ve come, and you might one day be looking back on the '20s as we do the '80s today.

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