Retro Game Clothing: Suggestions From a Vintage Gaming Nerd
I get all hot and bothered when I see a crisp clean Pac-Man shirt breaking through the dark and dreary human landscape. It makes my heart leap to see, “Missile Command”, proudly displayed on a t-shirt. I love retro games and I adore vintage video game merchandise. But I am old and I have to find things about which to complain, right?
Let us start with my complaints and end with something positive, shall we?
I am not too enthusiastic about retro gaming shirts that really are not retro. Many of the “vintage” shirts I see on sale at Hot Topic, or in a department store, reference retro video games, but are not reproductions of any of the actual gear that we sported back in the day. Do you know how badly I wish I still had my Yars Revenge t-shirt? It was the coolest, and what made it cool was that it was an iron-on that I got by mail. That’s the kind of cool stuff we had. The video game shirts that were available (unless you worked for a developer and got free swag,) were nearly limited to only the big commercial licenses. For my generation, that was pretty much Pac-Man, which had a HUGE endorsement and licensing deal that made shirts, hats, games, cards, shot glasses, switchblades, and throwing stars, just to name a few. I would love to see those shirts.
It does bother me somewhat when I see a kid wearing a retro game shirt but does not appreciate how awesome it is. If I see a little kid in an Atari shirt and I say, “High five, little man.” The kid probably does not even know what an Atari is. His mom bought it for him and he likes the little stripe things. Where has education gone in this country? We need video game history and video game appreciation to be taught in our schools. Truth be known, it is up to parents, the primary educators of their children, to raise the bar and show their kids where gaming came from. It is possible that their interest in things historical could increase. It is also possible they will think their dad’s brain is broken. Either way, maybe it would give you an excuse to get to an arcade – that is if you can still find one.
Why do they make retro gaming clothes out of such crappy fabric? Athletic fit, mega thin cotton shirts do not always fit right and certainly do not last more than a few washes. I do not recall shirts being so flimsy in the 70′s or 80′s. Why are they that way now? Two washes later and it looks like Pac-Man really wants to chow down on my nipple because the shirt drew up. I am not judging Pac Man. He can get all worked up over me if he wants. I just want shirts that last. That is all. Hey, and if there are not to be any high quality shirts, then at least bring back the iron-ons.
But it is not all bad news and complaints. There are plenty of reasons to rejoice over the recent surge in retro gaming merchandise.
For one, vintage look shirts are in style. That means the chances of seeing a Missile Command shirt being worn by a comely female are increased greatly with no complaints about that. I am sure that the ladies do not mind a muscular guy sporting a Dig Dug shirt either. The more that attractive folks wear retro game clothing the more attention will be given to the games advertised by them. Eyes front, soldier!
The fact that there are so many attempts at making vintage video game clothes indicates that there is a growing interest in retro gaming, or at least the look of retro gaming. It is my hope that the increased interest will help license holders loosen their grip enough to allow for legalization of ROMS for emulators and let entire new generations of gamers enjoy classic games. I am not even saying it has to be free licensing. Make a buck or two and pay your royalties, but let us erase the bugaboos and help spread the joy of pure arcade and console entertainment. Merchandise is not the battering ram to bust down the walls, but at least it has the potential to be a catalyst for re-opening discussion.
In the end, I cannot fault merchandisers for wanting to make a buck off of video game clothing. I also cannot blame consumers for purchasing retro gaming gear for that “retro look” whether they know anything about the game or not. I also think that an attractive woman in a Pac Man shirt is way hot. Everyone has an opportunity to win here. Oh, and in case you have access to any actual reproductions of classic gaming clothing made from comfortable and durable materials, please share the links.