Life as a Retro Gamer: Meet Eric
Whether it’s the high score tables, challenges or just forming friendships, Antstream Arcade is all about community and bringing gamers both young and old together. With our carefully-curated selection of retro games as the starting point, there’s a whole new virtual neighbourhood at the heart of what we do.
For our next gamer profile we present Eric Hanson, known as TesseractE on Antstream, and a fervent Antstream Arcade streamer. Why not friend him up, and throw a challenge his way – if you dare!
Name: Eric Hanson
Antstream Arcade Handle: TesseractE
Location: Wisconsin, USA
First Gaming Love: Commodore 64
Favourite Games on Antstream Arcade: Nitro Ball, Boogie Wings, Deflektor
Favourite Challenge: Groundhoggin' from Lock 'n' Chase!
A Family Guy
While many of us that grew up in the Eighties frequently had to deal with bemused parents, Eric was lucky enough to have a father as much into computers as he was – or wanted to be! “My dad was a huge tech fan,” he tells us, “so I’ve been gaming ever since I can remember. Something about making little sprites move around the TV and the music from that SID chip has enthralled me since day one.” As you may have guessed, Eric’s first gaming love was the beige wonder that is the Commodore 64. “The music and graphics are just brilliant – very little tops that SID chip for retro tunes!” Eric’s father sold the family’s Odyssey 2 at a garage sale in order to fund the purchase of their first C64, before upgrading to a Commodore 64c, which Eric still owns. “One of my favourite games is Jumpman Junior, a challenging, but fair platform game by Epyx. I also love their Olympic series of games – they really knew how to squeeze the best graphics and music from the lovable breadbin!”
Sadly, Eric’s dad passed away in 1994. “His last gift to me was Sonic and Knuckles for the Sega Genesis. I have sometimes wondered what he’d think of all the amazing progress that’s been made since the fourth generation of consoles.”
A Gaming Family
Growing up in Wisconsin, home consoles and computers were a boon for Eric, given the relatively remote environment that he lived in. “The nearest arcade was called Aladdin’s Castle in a mall about 25 miles away!” he exclaims. “Fortunately we’d be in town once a week, and I’d get a few tokens to spend while everyone else went shopping. My favourites were the likes of Hot Rod, Stun Runner and Cyber Sled.” These were heady times for the young man, but he is unable to say which era he loves the most. “Honestly, I can’t narrow it down to a generation – the entire history interests me. I think getting to see things go from primitive tapes and ASCII graphics, through to more robust sprites, then the shift to polygons, and now with online and photorealism, it’s hard not to be gobsmacked by the arc of it all.”
A Family Collection
Eric began collecting video games a few years ago, with his first goal to re-purchase all the classic games and consoles he had had as a child, but sold or traded on to fund new purchases. “From there, I’ve expanded to stuff I find interesting, or to plug gaps in my gaming education,” he explains. Most impressively, Eric has near-complete libraries for the Atari 7800 and Magnavox Odyssey 2 (known as the Philips Videopac G7000 in Europe). “The one criteria for choosing them was their small libraries that are mostly cheap!” he reveals modestly. “But that said, I’ve been finding interesting stuff about each. Unsurprisingly, Eric appreciates both machines despite their weaknesses. “The Atari 7800 was a great machine that might have given the NES a run for its money but for two issues,” he explains. “Nintendo’s third-party licensing that prevented many companies from releasing games on other consoles, and the mind-boggling choice to continue using the same audio chip from the 2600, and only add support for the improved POKEY audio as a cartridge add-on.”
Antstream Arcade Family
As a proud backer of the Antstream Arcade streaming service on Kickstarter and an avid streamer himself, Eric has since been showcasing numerous games from our extensive catalogue, on YouTube and beyond. “I stream Antstream most Tuesday nights at 8pm, but I’m all over the place as I like to find games that take a while to beat.” As a result, arcade RPGs such as Cadash, where Eric makes a little progress each week, are a popular destination. “But then I also try to explore the catalogue for games that I haven’t played yet and tackle challenges. I have a friendly rivalry going on with Fortefyre, sending each other challenges back and forth each week.”
Eric is clearly a committed fan of video games, and its rich history. Having missed out on European machines such as the ZX Spectrum, playing Antstream Arcade is an ideal opportunity to make up for lost time. “Collecting for such platforms is difficult, if not impossible, in the United States,” he notes. “The Speccy’s a bit tough to chew, but its history and cultural cachet in Britain interests me. Antstream Arcade helps me explore its library with ease.”
Yet despite his new-found appreciation of Blighty’s finest micro, Eric’s main love will always remain its great Eighties rival. “One of the great things about the Commodore 64 is that despite all the games I’ve played over the last thirty years, there are still more that I’ve never heard of. Paradroid was one that Antstream introduced me to, and I’ve rather enjoyed. I’d love to see the likes of Jumpman on there, as well as the Solid Gold Cosmi Collection which had a ton of excellent titles on it.” Not heard of Paradroid? It looks like there is still work to be done with Eric’s gaming education – over to Antstream Arcade!