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The N Word Project : Nostalgia Marketing

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The wave of nostalgia in the form of tech is at its highest. Big brands and bloggers like myself are tapping into the sentimentality of childhood memories. The difference with me versus some of the big businesses is that a) I only share things I believe are genuinely cool and think my audience will like and b) I'm Forest Gumping my way through with no real plan! Here is a visual representation:

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Remember those wistful hours spent playing your favourite video game? Well advertising companies are essentially punching us millennials in the feels, so we empty our wallets... and it's working! With releases of classic game consoles like the SNES Mini and other retro gaming emulators that offer you a gazillion video games, the strong stench of a yesteryear is here, and the world of advertising is cashing in. Yes fine friends, nostalgia marketing is a thing!

Companies for a long time now have recognised the value of nostalgia in the media and getting us hooked!

Well... obviously! A fine example of nostalgia being awesome and super popular!

Well... obviously! A fine example of nostalgia being awesome and super popular!

With technology especially gaming, the brains behind a marketing campaign figures that if they can evoke the playful feelings of you button bashing Track & Field on the Game Boy, then they will use this to make you throw money at whatever they are selling. Is it a trap? Yes. Is it clever? Yes. Are you still going to buy an Atari handheld gaming console? Shut up and take my money!

The trickery brands use to gain the interest of the consumer is simply to form an emotional connection to whatever they are selling. If the brand can resonate with positive memories, then the battle to sell us stuff we never thought we needed is already half won. Basically, the better we feel when using a product coupled with shouts of “Oh my god I remember that!” the more likely we are to add it to our basket when shopping online. #drunkonlinepurchases. The thing is… even though I know it’s all marketing wizardry set out to piss off my bank balance… I’m still probably definitely gonna buy into it because I lack self control!

Conjuring emotions for an inanimate object is a very powerful marketing tool. We know that buying a retro games console will give us an immediate fuzzy glow of satisfaction as soon as we slam Super Mario Kart into a SNES! It's these warm comforting emotions that encourages us to spend all the money on things we never need but simply want… because reasons! 

Studies on nostalgia tells us that it has the power to combat loneliness, anxiety and even boredom. As well as making us feel lightheaded and physically warm, nostalgia can make us more understanding, tolerant and generous to strangers. Old happy memories have also been noted to aid us in difficult transitional moments of our lives and help us feel more resilient in stressful situations. In short... nostalgia is a kick ass, potent, psychological phenomenon which makes selling us retro inspired shit so damn easy! The concept is so very easy, but super powerful!

I HAVE THE POWEEEEEEEERRRRR!

I HAVE THE POWEEEEEEEERRRRR!

Nostalgic strategies employed by advertisers help mask over the complexities of our current life with a giant, rose tinted, blast from the past plaster. In a world where instant gratification is deemed the holy grail of adult life, the N Word plays magnificently into that concept.

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So, continuing with the second round of The N Word Project is Naoise O’Hare from Retro Gamer Ireland who basically is a retro gaming extraordinaire from Dublin. I stumbled across his blog and got insanely jealous at his Instagram account that showcases all his retro video game consoles and games. Go check him out post haste and follow him all the way to the Shangri-La of retro gaming wonderment!

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Have you always been into retro gaming or did you pick this up later on in life?

I started out playing the Nes, then Snes and so on. Over the years I went along with the times and played modern gaming and left the oldschool stuff in the past. It wasn't until about 5 years ago that my girlfriend surprised me with the gift of a Super Nintendo that my love of retro games was sparked.

What made you want to start your website Retro Gamer Ireland?

I was having a lot of fun  using Instagram as a micro blog but wanted to share more in depth thoughts on retro gaming. I tried YouTube but it wasn't for me so I tried writing blogs and loved it so started the website.

What do you think it is about old skool games and consoles that makes it still so popular?

One word... Nostalgia.

What was your first gaming console?

The Nes and a copy of the Duck Hunt/Super Mario Bros cart. It's still one of my favourite consoles today.

What was your favourite video game?

The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I have so many fond memories playing it as a kid, and still love it to this day. It's a game that I will keep going back to for the rest of my days. 
 

What retro game throws you right back into being a kid again? (Mine is Streets of Rage on the Mega Drive!)

So many games take me back to the good old days, anything that I played as a kid will get the nostalgia flowing. One game that takes me all the way back is Super Mario Bros, one or my earliest memories is playing this game with my older brother Aodhan.

For me nostalgia and childhood memories make me feel like I’m hugging a hot water bottle or placing a warm towel over my eyes. What kind of emotions or imagery evokes nostalgia for you?

Any video game that I can remember playing as a kid will always fill me with nostalgia. Then certain tv shows and movies like the first 2 seasons of Pokémon and Power Rangers The Movie.

Do you think retro gaming will ever become uncool and die out as new technology booms (and the machines take over – Terminator style?!)

Haha, machines are already taking over! It wouldn't bother me if retro gaming became uncool because I'd be able to get retro games for cheap again if they did :D

If you had a time machine/Delorean, which age would you go back to and live for a week and why?

Probably the Christmas of 1997 which would make me 10. This is when my brother and I got the Nintendo 64 and it was one of my favourite Christmas holidays of all.

Do you think that it is unhealthy to still live in the past, using retro inspired toys, music and pop culture as a form of escapism?

Not at all. I'm definitely a creature of habit and I love playing the same old games over and over. I don't live completely in the past though as it's a hobby that I do in my spare time. For the most part I live very much in the present time and I'm not constantly trying to relive the past.

Does nostalgia and reminiscing about the good old days prevent us from moving forward and grabbing new adventures and opportunities?

I can't speak for others but it has never prevented me from moving forward and taking part in new adventures. Blogging about retro games has opened up so many new doors for me that I would never have been able to get to had I not been reminiscing of times long past. 
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The N Word : The Nostalgia Project

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I’m that person who can be found most days saying, “remember when…” with a warm glow in my heart as I fondly reminisce about a childhood memory. If I could camp out in 1992 with my Nintendo Game Boy, Captain Planet on a giant television set whilst wearing a highly flammable shell suit, then I would steal a Delorean time machine and make that shit happen! Nostalgic musings of awesomeness is where I shine brightest!

The sentimentality of a memory is an important component to life. It first emerged from the Greek words nostos meaning ‘homecoming’ and algos meaning ‘ache’. It was later coined in the 17th century to describe the medical condition of anxiety. Since then the word has spawned a slightly different meaning associated with romanticism and the longing for those ‘good old days.’ Nostalgia can be anything from a smell, to a touch to an event in one’s past. It can also be stumbling into your parent’s garage and finding forgotten bottles of Archers peach schnapps and Malibu rum that instantly throws you back to being a teenager... sleeping in fields with vomit in your hair!

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Nostalgia evokes strong vivid reactions in the human brain. The smell of freshly cut grass makes me think of playing football in the school holidays with my brother. This stimulus alone provokes once dormant memories to fizz in my brain and etch-a-sketch a little smile on my face no matter how much of a shitty day I may be having.

Although nostalgia was once considered in a negative light with images of melancholy, homesickness and anxiety, it is now thought of as a trope for improving mood and creating positive emotions. Nostalgia is also a fantastic coping mechanism when life smacks you in the face with adulting!

What is The N Word Project?

After spending an afternoon with my nan who has dementia, I decided that I wanted to explore what nostalgia means to different people. The potent power of childhood memories and past experiences are the things that keeps my nan smiling when she’s feeling confused with modern life, so I wanted to discover the importance of these reflective moments in our lives. The N Word Project is a collection of interviews with interesting folk as I try to figure out what nostalgia is all about.

First up is Brandon Felczer who part owns the amazing retro arcade bar Token in Dublin. They opened in 2017 and offer not only 30+ original video arcades and pinballs to play with, but also some seriously delicious gourmet food and of course booze to accompany all that gaming!

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How did you get involved in Token?

I arrived in Dublin in December 2016 with two suitcases and no idea what I was going to do! I had a dream to live in Ireland and I had 90 days to figure it all out. So, I was talking to friends and thought about setting up a restaurant or bar. My friends suggested a retro arcade bar because they’re really popular in the states. So, I Googled 'retro arcade bar Dublin' and an article from Lovin Dublin two years previous popped up. I decided to reach out via Facebook to the company and Nick the primary founder, and I asked to be involved… And here we are!

What do you think it is about Token that makes it so popular?

It’s unique! There is nothing like it in Dublin. It gives you something different to do other than just coming in and having something to eat or drink. It’s great as a date night venue, we do community events, there’s food challenges and monthly specials and we are always evolving making changes based on what we hear from customers.

For me nostalgia and childhood memories make me feel like I’m hugging a hot water bottle or placing a warm towel over my eyes. What kind of emotions or imagery evokes nostalgia for you?

For me it’s definitely retro graphics like the screens that you see, retro clothing and certain colours and old cars. I love what’s going on in Stranger Things and how you get sucked into this world of the past.

What was your first gaming console?

Super Nintendo! My uncle gave it to my me and my sister for a present and it was my first experience on a gaming console. Super Mario Bros! I was obsessed with it and haven’t stopped playing games since.

What was your favourite video game?

My favourite game isn’t actually a retro game but it’s the Unchartered Series. It’s amazing! It started on the Playstation and has four core games and one spinoff. That and The Last of Us. Amazing cinematics and all about the narrative. I really love narrative driven games that make you feel like you’re playing a movie.

What retro game throws you right back into being a kid again? Mine is Streets of Rage on the Mega Drive!

I would say Super Mario World and Zelda, especially Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64. It’s won a lot of best game awards. It’s literally one of those masterpieces that has been untouched by time where you can keep playing it over and over and transports me right back to my childhood and trying to get through that water temple!

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Do you think Token taps into the sentimentality and fond memories of youth as a marketing tool?

Oh absolutely! It’s all about being a grown-up kid without the kids screaming around you! From 4pm daily we’re 18+ (age) So you can come in and be a kid again, play games and eat fun tasty food. It’s a place to come and let your guard down and just throw back to what you would do as a kid and also drink a little bit! All of our games have drink holders, so you can continue your sippage and sesh while you’re gaming!

If you had a time machine/Delorean, which age would you go back to and live for a week and why?

Oh my gosh! I’ll probably have to say 6th grade when I was 12. I think I finally came into my youth and got out of a really awkward phase! I had really fun friends where we played a lot of games. And Final Fantasy 7 was out! That’s actually up there with one of my favourite retro games as well. It was before you started working, but you still had some responsibility and you valued your free time with your friends and I filled a lot of my time with gaming. Yeah, I definitely would go back to when I was 12! Young, dumb, carefree, hitting puberty but it was a fun time!

Do you think that it is unhealthy to still live in the past? Does nostalgia and reminiscing about the good old days prevent us from moving forward and grabbing new adventures and opportunities?

I think it is totally fair to enjoy your past and relive some of that. But I think you should apply that to your mindset of today and how you are as a person. But it is kinda fun to let go of things and be transported to the past and put on a retro game and not worry about what’s going on in the world. It’s just dumb fun! And I think dumb fun is ok once in a while. I do believe your past is the past. Like if I had a time machine I would have the option to go back but I would also choose not to go. Because everywhere I’m at from the past has led me to where I am now, and I focus on that. I do reflect on the past, so I don’t repeat the same mistakes and I take my learnings forward, but I think you can separate out retro fun and dwelling too much on the past.