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Frogger, anyone? Old-school gamers revel in nostalgia

  • Story Highlights
  • As video games become more sophisticated, some gamers embrace the past
  • Story-based games don't encourage repeat plays, some say
  • Some gamers collect vintage systems such as Atari consoles and Coleco Vision
  • "Even a game like Frogger is a complex puzzle," one old-school gamer says
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By Jacque Wilson
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(CNN) -- It was the ultimate 30th birthday present for Rob O'Hara. His wife joined forces with friends and family in 2003 to bring a dream of his to life in the Yukon, Oklahoma, couple's backyard.

Michael Tilly, left, and best pal Jonathan Stanley playing with Stanley's Odyssey 2 game system in 1979.

Michael Tilly, left, and best pal Jonathan Stanley playing with Stanley's Odyssey 2 game system in 1979.

The group converted a workshop into an arcade by painting the walls, laying black-and-white carpet and hanging decorations. The result reignited one of O'Hara's life-long passions, and the arcade now houses between 20 and 30 games.

"My friends love going out back, dropping a quarter into one of the machines and reliving their youth," said O'Hara, author of "Invading Spaces: A Beginner's Guide to Collecting Arcade Games."

As video gamers across the nation follow news this week from the E3 Media and Business Summit in Los Angeles, California, a few are wondering whether the video-gaming industry has lost an essential piece of its founding spirit. Photo See photos of iReporters' old-school games »

"The problem with the industry is simply that they are trying to build this 'wow factor' -- graphics, life-like, controversial content -- which in turn limits games' replay capability," said Matt Scharboneau of Jacksonville, Florida. "So many of the games are in a story-based setting, once completed, you are done. Why play the same thing again?" Video Watch video from E3 »

This lack of plug-in-and-playability -- which made older, simpler games so instantly accessible -- has some gamers feeling a bit nostalgic.

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Scharboneau owns four classic video-arcade games: Data East Jurassic Park, Data East Star Wars, Gottlieb Gladiators and an upright 1981 Ms. Pac-Man.

"Nothing beats the T-rex eating the ball, then burping," he said.

Andrea Rane of Columbia, Missouri, refuses to play anything but old-school games. Her husband, Erik Hoffman, had eight systems until just recently. He saved all of them from the time he was a kid, including two Atari consoles, an original NES, a Super Nintendo and a Coleco Vision.

"I just think a lot of the games that are being released today don't have the same playability," Hoffman said. "Even a game like Frogger is a complex puzzle." What's your favorite all-time game?

For other gamers like Jonathan Stanley, video games of the past are simply a part of who he is. Stanley and best friend Michael Tilly used to play all the time with Stanley's then-brand-new Odyssey 2 game system when they were boys in 1979.

"If nothing else, that old gaming system got me interested in computers, very interested," said Stanley, who lives in Anthony, Florida. "In 1980, I took my first computer course at school on a TRS-80 Model I, and it was love at first sight."


Today, Mike and Jonathan are still friends, and both have careers in the computer field.

"It's amazing how something as simple as playing some almost-laughable games almost 30 years ago could have led us down the path to where we are today," Stanley said.

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