Dunedin gaming lounge brings back retro classics

Dunedin gaming lounge brings back retro classics

A retro video games lounge has opened its doors in central Dunedin, giving locals the chance to experience classic gaming hits from the 80s and 90s.

The pop-up venue features just a small sample of Clinton Rowe's massive collection of old video games, consoles, and computers.  His regular "Retrowe Museum" fills two houses.

"There's about 6000 games in this collection", he says. "So I've got about 400-500 here. I've got more than 600 game consoles and computers combined."

A modern art-style sculpture of retro joysticks hangs in the middle of the lounge.  Mr Rowe says they were a necessity for good gameplay on the old computer systems, although the graphics were pretty basic by today's standards.

"They were definitely considered primitive nowadays", he agrees. "But I mean, that retro aesthetic is coming back. So a lot of indie games are using that 8-bit style of graphics, all blocky graphics."

And he's still a fan of the old school days of gaming.

"I think there are some values tied up with the old game. For one, we learned patience. You had to wait for a game to load, and that could take 5 or 10 minutes. So what did you do? You had conversations with your friends.

"You also learned a lot of patience and persistence, because the games were so difficult to play and unforgiving."

The gaming lounge is an initiative from the Urban Dream Brokerage and Southern Heritage Trust, aimed at reusing and revitalising empty retail spaces around Dunedin.

Jonathan Cweorth from the Southern Heritage Trust says landlords have welcomed the opportunity to open up their empty spaces for short projects.

"The idea is to encourage artists to link up with property owners", says Mr Cweorth. "Just to bring a bit of life back to the CBD, and provide some sort of interactive environment."

He's painted the walls of the former clothing store in different colours, to create different lounge settlings for each of the different game styles and consoles.

Brands on show include classic working systems from Nintendo, Apple, Atari, Commodore, and ZX Spectrum.

The free gaming lounge will be open until October 25, just along from the Octagon in George Street.