Video game culture has experienced a seismic transformation in the last 30 years, leaving behind the days of disposable batteries, squint-inducing graphics and inch-thick instruction manuals.
Growing up in the 90s, I had no idea how different the gaming landscape would look today, or how significantly the internet would affect it. While I couldn't be happier about the technological advancements that have smoothened out many of the medium's rough edges, I still have a loving, nostalgic affinity for the eccentricities of my day. If you recognize these 13 signs of a 90s gamer, it's likely you have similar feelings, too.
1. You threw your parents' phone bill to the wind and called tip hotlines in desperation
The concept of a tip hotline seems laughably antiquated nowadays, but lifelines they were. Before the proliferation of strategy guides these last ports of call saved the despairing gamer from hours, days, potentially weeks, of helpless hair-pulling, for an exorbitant fee of course.
2. Optional rumble packs were essential
If you think game companies are bad at shilling additional accessories now, you should've been there in the 90s. Even vibration was an optional extra, and not a cheap one either! Hopefully you nabbed one as a free pack in with this bad boy...
3. Player 2 always got the unofficial controller
These totally legit-looking 'alternative' pads might not have been the most comfortable, hardy or elegant of controllers, but they got the job done at a fraction of the price and would always be handed off to a glum-looking friend anyway. That was sure to give you the upper hand in Tekken, unless your opponent had a turbo mode. Then you were screwed.
4. A worm light was brought for every 3+ hour car journey...
...and promptly died half an hour in.
5. Your old notebooks are still scribbled with level passwords
How else are you going to start from where you left off? Save points? Pfff.
6. You know exactly when and why this is appropriate
For a reason that's still unclear to me to this day, turning your PlayStation upside down would help games load faster and prevent discs from getting stuck.
7. Game manuals belonged in a library
Dwarfing the flimsy health-and-safety-laden advice sheets that pass for manuals today, 90s era instruction booklets were behemoths. It wasn't that games required more explanation back then, it was just that publishers seemed to have a lot more reverence for their games' fictions, including a bunch of flavor text and extra information alongside the disc/cartridge.
8. This coast is instantly recognizable as Cinnabar Island
At the height of Poke-fever my playground was abuzz with hushed whispers about a mysterious Pokemon no one was even sure existed. This feverish scuttlebutt led to days of incessantly surfing up and down to trigger the fabled MissingNo glitch, and when it finally happened I lost my tiny little mind.
9. Magazine demo discs were as good as gold dust
Just as magazines used to be the gamer's one source for finding out about future releases, the glorious demo discs that accompanied them were your one ticket to pre-release tasters.
10. Your game saves travelled in your pocket
And became corrupted on multiple, infuriating occasions.
11. You always carried spare batteries
Every portable gamer's nightmare is getting caught short without a pair of your trusty AAs!
12. You played music on your console...because you could
At some point in time, playing albums through your TV actually made sense. Now, it would be legitimate grounds for sectioning.
13. Your heart still skips a beat when you see this guy
The inescapable, bloodthirsty yeti who tormented every Ski Free player actually gave me nightmares as a kid. I would awake, sweating, after it chased me through endless snow-covered valleys until its pixelated pitchfork fingers reached and tore into my flesh.