New Year is a time that many of us try to set new resolutions for the year ahead. Some try to lose weight. Others try to read more. Often people want to try to curtail certain temptations, whether it’s a sneaky chocolate before going to bed, or how many times their finger clicks on that tempting ’new bingo site’ on their device, or the extremely common one of trying to rein in a drinking habit. Whatever it is, it’s important to set realistic limitations and often allow yourself things in moderation. In terms of gaming, there has certainly been a lot in the news about how addictive Fortnite can be for children. I personally haven’t had the luxury of enough spare time to get addicted to gaming, but I do still have some gaming resolutions, most of them actually involving doing MORE gaming!

1. Be more prepared for modern gaming
What I mean by this is that often when I do have a spare 30mins and I chose to spend it on my Xbox I get met with a 5GB update request for the system, followed by a 3GB update for the game I want to play. I think I might try to pre-empt this by checking for updates more regularly or try to plan in advance before I do a modern gaming session. It’s certainly something that can become a barrier and make me reach for retro gaming instead.

2. Play my retro systems more
This is one I hear a lot. I’ve become one of those people that often spend more time hunting for and then curating old retro systems rather than actually playing them. I’ve currently got a ZX Spectrum 48k, ZX Spectrum +2, SNES, Mega Drive, Atari ST and Amiga 500 on my desk in my retrocave. Did I play any of them last year? Nope. Partly it’s because I’m too busy, but I also often put other things on my desk that get in the way or I don’t     have the right cables handy so it becomes a chore to set things up. I need to sort this out and actually spend some time enjoying the retro setup that I’ve spent so long collecting.

3. Learn to code
Ambitious perhaps, but let me explain. I’m very excited about the upcoming release of the new ZX Spectrum Next. This next generation Spectrum is going to bring a whole new online retro community together in new ways, with people sharing games and code that they have made. I always wanted to learn a bit of BASIC back in the day but it was just a bit too hard for me. Now that it’s going to be easier to save programs and get tutorials etc I’d love to give it a quick bash, perhaps with my son learning with me. Don’t expect me to write a game or even a demo, but if I can do more than just making my name appear on screen then I will be well chuffed.

4. Community high scores
The Ten Pence Arcade podcast has a fantastic fortnightly high score competition for classic games and I do get involved once every few months, but I’d like to go do this more. There’s a great community feel and I love taking part. The Retro Asylum also have a very cool monthly game club, that I’ve never taken part in at all yet. This must be rectified in 2020.

5. Local arcade visit
I’m lucky enough to have a great friend, Ally Hogg who owns a retro game shop (The Retrohunter) AND a retro arcade (Neon Knights) in Southend-on-Sea, the town where I live. It’s sadly not just round the corner from me, so I can’t just easily nip to it, but I’m still very lucky to have it so close so I really must make a bigger effort to get along there more often. 

There we go. Certainly achievable. Let’s see how I get on. Bring it on, 2020!