Playing video games is easier than ever. With a multitude of devices that can run games simply by downloading or using physical media, we rarely need to wait long for a game to load. It’s hard to believe that this situation was any different than it is today; in fact, some may argue that even the obsolete video game cartridge, used by childhood heroes Nintendo and Sega, was an even quicker way to get your fill of digital entertainment. However, if you were a Personal computer user back in the good old ’80s, then you probably bought your games on cassette tapes, similar to what your dad used to play Credence Clearwater Revival in the car. These tapes would be loaded into the memory of your computer via a cassette deck, which would run the whole tape from start to finish while making weird high pitched sounds and flashing like a ’90s rave. Sound familiar? Then one thing probably comes to mind – the bloody length of time it takes to load a game.

    It’s a pity that loading games onto the likes of the Commodore 64 or ZX Spectrum takes such an age, as there are many great games on these old systems that new gamers and old alike probably can’t be arsed trying to fire up. Well have no fear, for this is a list of things that you can do while you spend your night on an ultra nerdy quest to load old games onto old machines via old cassette tapes!

    #1 Make a Cup of Tea (or Five)

    So you’re sitting there, cluelessly looking at an epileptic fit-inducing screen, enjoying the sound of digital cats being strangled. The only thing that could make this joyous experience even better is a lovely cup of tea. If you don’t like tea, then just use the find and replace function on your computer to replace the word ‘tea’ with ‘cyanide’. There are many reasons why tea can aid you in your conquest to load your cassette games; the caffeine will keep you awake, the warmth of the tea will soothe your soul and the walk to the kitchen will save you from developing post game-loading stress disorder. You never know, you may even remember to feed your cat on your way to get yourself the beverage, saving it from malnutrition due to your unhealthy obsession with old hardware. The only bad thing that could come from making this cup of tea is the risk of burning yourself with kettle water, which since it would get you away from the horrors of obsolete technology, might not be so bad.

    #2 Do Some Chores

    This one is a great way to self-discipline yourself to get some work done before you relax and play some good ol’ games *cough*. Imagine the number of dishes you could get done? Imagine the amount of ironing you could get through? It would impress your Mum and save you from wearing the same Dropkick Murphy’s t-shirt for the fifth day running. You could even do some vacuuming, which would drown out the souls of the dead used to put your C64 game onto cassette in the first place. A tidy home means a tidy mind and you’re going to need that after playing Paperboy on the ZX Spectrum, believe me.

    #3 Spend Time With Your Family

    It might be a good idea to use the time in between playing games to speak to those closest to you. Whether it be your mum, dad, sister or loved one, it’s probably best to make sure you’ve not been disowned or dumped before disappearing into your anti-social bubble. Your dad might even stop thinking you’re a good for nothing slacker and if you’re married, your husband (or wife) might decide that they’ve not given up hope of your relationship with them! Who needs relationship therapists or family interventions when you can save it all in the time it takes to load an 8-bit game onto something that would probably fail a PAT test these days.

    #4 Play Another Video Game

    This one may create a paradox, so be warned. While waiting on your game loading, you could play ANOTHER GAME. You could give your PS Vita a whirl, with some weird Japanese visual novels that probably involve tentacles. You could play some Nintendo Switch, a console which uses cartridges that are probably the same size as the processor in the computer trying not to flatline while loading bytes from a cassette. You could even play another OLDER video game;however, be warned, that trying to load two data cassettes at the same time could create a paradox so twisted, that Donald Trump would become presid… wait.

    #5 Frantically Google How Long it Takes for Cassette Games to Load

    Whilst on your quest for glory and pixelated mess, you’ll get to the stage where you start questioning your life. Where did it all go wrong? Is there any hope for me anymore? Is something supposed to appear on screen while this game bloody loads? There’s only one thing for it: Ask Google, because Jeeves is now in jail for distribution of narcotics. Google will advise you on how long a game actually takes to load from the cassette, which might be a bad thing if you’ve been waiting for three days straight and ‘retrogamingdad13’ says on a forum that it only takes 4-5 minutes for a game to load. Put it this way, we all learn from experience. Next time you’ll actually check what tape was actually in the Chucky Egg case before trying to load The best of INXS into your Commodore. You silly goose.

    Hopefully, this proves to be useful for your retro gaming adventures. If you’re wise, you’ll stick to games that actually load instantly. If you’re anything like me, however, you’re probably something of a sadist who has nothing better to do with his time than to sit and inhale the smell of old degrading circuits while waiting on a game loading that’s mediocre at best.

    Phil Hayton
    A lover of old video games, dogs and tea. Creator of the video series 'Through The Techades' and something of a history geek.

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