Retrogaming & pandemic: why do we bring back video games from our childhood?

Containment sometimes revives the desire to replay our old video games, on PC and console: nostalgia for childhood, yes, but not only.

Forgotten in an old piece of furniture, covered with dust, the games of our childhood have a very special flavor. The scratched CD that we throw in praying it will work, the console intact even after all these years, the cartridge that makes us cough because we blew into it and… it’s back to the good old days.

Since the start of the pandemic, the video game market has been doing quite well: in France, it jumped 11.3% in 2020 and weighed in total 5.3 billion euros, according to the French Video Game Agency (AFJV). We remember in particular the craze for the Nintendo Switch console, which made the game Animal Crossing the best-selling cultural property in France in 2020.

However, like many, Pierre preferred to bring out the first version of the game, Animal Crossing Wild World (2005), on his Nintendo DS. For those who do not know, Animal Crossing is an interactive game where you maintain a city populated by neighboring animals, while doing a variety of activities (fishing, insect hunting, gardening, landscaping…) according to the seasons. Pierre rediscovered with emotion his city and his ” childhood love », Alphonso the Crocodile, who has never moved. Same nostalgia for Marceau, 21, by turning his console back on: ” It brought me a lot of childhood memories, when I played with my sister and we invited each other to our cities. With my cousins, we hurried to eat to go play.

Playing on familiar ground

Beyond the memories, it must be said that Animal Crossing has a very relaxing effect on the brain. Nothing was chosen at random: soothing music, smiling people, green landscape … A cocktail of positive emotions that reassures and allows you to escape, especially when you are stuck in your 11 square meter in confinement.No pressure, no performance, analysis Alvin Stick, host and section manager at Jeuxvidé It is very satisfying in terms of immediate pleasure. After playing it at his parents’ house, Marceau took his DS with iel * during his move. ” I didn’t think it was going to calm me down like this. I think it has to do with going home, being with your family. It was clearly linked to my surroundings.


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In his business, Pierre has not forgotten his old man either. Age Of Empire II, a strategic fighting game released on PC released in 1999. ” I discovered them because my brothers played them, even before I was born. Added to the pleasure of playing again is the experience, now that he has taken a bit of a bottle with age. I am on familiar ground. It doesn’t require a lot of effort from me, for optimal pleasure He admits. Ease and comfort sought after in times of pandemic, as Alvin Stick explains: “ It’s like when you’re little, playing the VHS of your favorite cartoon: why try to watch another movie that you might not like, when you are sure not to be disappointed?

Make something new with old

For Quentin, 26, no need to take out the old CD Age of Empire II that he was when he was 12 years old: a remastered version of the game was developed before containment, with improved graphics and the ability to network play.It mainly became online gambling. Lots of streamers do live on it », He explains. The opportunity to play with friends or with strangers, which the old version did not allow. This appetite for childhood games has not escaped the developers, who are handing over classics like Pharaoh (a strategic game from the 90s), Ninja Turtle or Street Of Rage up to date. By remastering them on PC, no need to bring out (or buy) the vintage console that we sometimes have trouble connecting. ” Some recent flat screens no longer have scart sockets », Recalls Alvin Stick.

Animal Crossing, as Age Of Empire, embody the idea of ​​a certain routine, which is not always found in current games.In Fortnite, the game lasts 20 minutes and it is folded, explains Pierre. There is no continuity. While playing old games, where you see your game progressing day by day, it’s like a very cozy sofa. And in this strange period, what could be more reassuring than a cozy sofa?

* Marceau defines himself as non-binary

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