9 game references that show your age

Where you stand on the generation gap may be more obvious than you think

Above: Here’s a freebie: “The last game I played was Pac-Man!”

Don’t believe us? Then think about the last time you talked about a…

“Shooter” seems like it should be a catch-all term, doesn’t it? Something that should encapsulate all games that revolve around shooting something – which, let’s face it, would be an awful lot of games. But “shooter,” used by itself, tends to have a very specific meaning that differs from generation to generation. Back in the ‘80s, for example, if you were talking about a shooter, you were probably talking about a game like Gradius, R-Type, Xevious or Time Pilot. Something side-scrolling or top-down, usually with a spaceship that shot at things.


These have since been renamed “shoot ‘em-ups,” or “SHMUPs,” but when they were actually popular, the term was practically unheard of. And it’s not uncommon for seriously old-school fans to still refer to SHMUPs simply as shooters, because that’s what they are, goddammit.

It wasn’t until the likes of Wolfenstein and Doom came along that first-person shooters co-opted the term and eventually became synonymous with it, giving an entire generation of Japanese-RPG fans license to complain about how everything’s “a shooter” these days.

Above: We can probably blame Halo specifically for every game being a shooter, seeing as it’s the most popular and therefore the worst

It’s pretty common to assume that the word “64” tacked onto a game’s title means it’s a Nintendo 64 game. It was a popular convention back in the day, after all, and became so prevalent that certain N64 games that never had a number in their title have since become popularly known as, say, “Superman 64” or “Castlevania 64.”

Above: You see a “64” anywhere on this box? Or even a title, for that matter?

Above: There, see? If a publisher tacked a 64 onto a title, they wanted you to know it

If you’re one of the many who think along these lines, then odds are you’re relatively young. However, it’s possible – if unlikely – that seeing the number in a game’s title triggers a totally different association. It wasn’t quite as widespread as it was among N64 games, but slapping a “64” on a game box was fairly common during the Commodore 64 era, too.

Above: Back then, most games were only 50-60 percent machine code. Munch Man 64 changed all that

So if you’ve ever caught yourself wondering why all these snarky internet kids keep bringing up ancient ‘80s computer games, congratulations: you’re old. And more than a little out of touch.


After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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