What “Retro Gaming” Was Like in the 1990s

Video game nostalgia had a different flavor in the time of the PlayStation 1.

The following is part of our 25-day Holiday Countdown Calendar! Every day from December 1st through the 25th, we’re posting a cool game history treat, daily updates from the VGHF, giveaways, and more! To make sure you don’t miss a day, sign up for our email list:

This is all part of our annual Winter Fundraiser donation drive, where we ask those who are able to generously give what they can so that we can continue thriving. If you’re able to make an additional one-time charitable contribution, this really is the best time to do so, as your donations will be DOUBLED thanks to a generous group of sponsors! Head on over to gamehistory.org/donate to learn more and give today.

So far, the Video Game History Foundation has scanned over 1200 video game magazines! We wanted to spotlight an unusual magazine we scanned that most people haven’t seen before: Digital Diner, a short-lived tech lifestyle magazine from the 90s with a surprisingly good video game beat.

This issue has one of the first magazine articles we’ve ever seen about retrogaming and game collecting. “Retro-Inter-Active,” embedded above, digs into game zines, the early emulation scene, and whether things were really better in the good old days. And this was published all the way back in 1997!

Unfortunately, Digital Diner only ran for two issues. But thanks to donations from two of its former editors, including the author of this article (who went on to have a career in the video game industry still going strong today), we have the full run!

Back up, did you say 1200 video game magazines?

Yes! We’re building a collection of video game magazines, and we want to make sure as many of them are scanned as possible. When we receive a duplicate copy of a magazine, we check if it’s already available online. If not, we send it off to a local vendor to scan. This is an actual photo of our first order with them! And with the exception of magazines where publishers specifically forbid it, all of them are browsable online, right now, on The Internet Archive, including this one.

We want these scans to be widely accessible, so we’ve donated digital copies of these magazines to community scanning groups like Retromags and Gaming Alexandria to help build their own collections. If you’re a game mag aficionado, there’s a chance you’ve already read some of them!

So far, we’ve scanned enough magazines that you could read one issue every day for the next three years and not get to the bottom of the pile. And we have another 300–400 unscanned magazines waiting in the wings.

None of this would be possible without the support of our community. If you’re not familiar with our magazine donation program, go give it a look. Your unwanted old issues can be transformed into digital preservation!

Coming tomorrow: We found the prototype ROM that changed Nintendo forever. We hope to see you then!

You can see tomorrow’s post right now!

Members of our Patreon who support us at $5 or more per month get to travel through time and see our daily calendar entries one day early! Christmas comes early for our beloved team of time bandits! Memberships at higher tiers also include access to our Discord community, monthly hangout calls with VGHF staff, and more!

If you appreciate preservation work like this and want to see more, we’re in the middle of our annual Winter Fundraiser, which is what we use to determine what projects we can tackle next year – projects just like this one! If you’re able to give right now, our sponsors are matching every dollar, which means your contributions are DOUBLED.

Today’s Sponsor

Today’s sponsor is iam8bit! Based in Los Angeles, iam8bit makes incredibly cool video game merch, soundtracks, and other premium goodies.

They’ve offered to DOUBLE every dollar put toward our goal this year, up to $3,000! So your $5 becomes $10! Your $10 becomes $20! Your $3,000 becomes $6,000! (you can’t knock us for trying…)

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