When Cindy Simmons and her husband get home from a hard day at the office, they cozy up and relax like many young couples – by bombing enemy ships on “River Raid” using their classic Atari video game console. It is just like being 11 years old again," said Simmons, 32, an on-air radio personality from Atlanta. “Except I didn’t have 30 games then – now I do.”
High-tech gadgets like digital cameras top many holiday wish lists, but old-school items such as “Pac-Man” video games and vintage televisions are finding an audience with tech-savvy consumers yearning for nostalgia.
Rapid advances in computer technology have allowed consumer electronics makers to pack increasingly more power into smaller boxes, helping to grow the CE market to almost $100 billion.
But even “thirtysomething” shoppers – the first generation to grow up with personal “Walkman” music players and own a home version of “Space Invaders” – are overwhelmed when confronted with Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE - news) (news - web sites). PlayStation 2 (news - web sites) and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox (news - web sites) consoles that also surf the Web and play DVDs, or pocket devices that can store 10,000 songs.
“Devices and games are getting more complex. The learning curve is not what it used to be and or you’re not as willing to spend the time to learn as you would years ago,” analyst Danielle Levitas of research firm IDC said. “Also, every generation experiences nostalgia, reflecting on what they did in their free time when they were teen-agers.”
The trend is most evident with video games. Teens today enjoy them primarily on living room consoles that can, for example, simulate with stunning three-dimensional precision, a World War II battle scene. A single game, packed with maps and myriad weaponry, can take hours to learn and weeks to complete.
By contrast, beloved games of late 1970s and early 1980s were no-brainers, where strategy meant little more than picking whether to chase and chomp the stationary picture of a strawberry or the red cone-shaped monster with the googly eyes.
“The essence of these games was that they didn’t go on for 40 hours. You can just pick up and figure out what was going on fairly quickly and then play,” said Keith Robinson, president of Intellivision Productions, which is also selling a version of its 1980s games for new game consoles. "