Ah nostalgia. It’s not what it used to be. But then again, what is?
The dictionary definition of nostalgia, “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past”, makes it sound like a negative feeling. Something that makes you feel sad. As Andy Bernard said, “I wish there was to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”
But is that really the case? Is it such a negative thing? And how long ago does something have to have been before you can be nostalgic about it?
That dictionary definition doesn’t put a timescale on it, which is understandable. How often have you been on holiday and immediately wished you were back there when you got home? Or eaten a delicious meal and wished you were still eating it? This short-term nostalgia is common, but not traditionally what we mean when we use the term. It can mean something different for each individual person, and there is some genuine science behind what it does to your brain.
But that’s not what we’re interested in. Here at Fanattik, nostalgia is a big part of our business. We want to produce products that make you feel good, remind you of a happy time in your life, whether that be for watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the 80s, playing on your N64 in the 90s, or even reading the Harry Potter novels in the 00s. And we’re not the only company to be trading off nostalgia. Arguably (and this is a sore point so don’t @ me!), two of the last three films of the Star Wars Skywalker Saga were heavy on the nostalgia (e.g. characters from the Original Trilogy, similar plots and plot devices, etc), and one of those is the 4th biggest film of all time. WandaVision has been hugely successful and the entire premise was based on nostalgia.
There are some occasions where it doesn’t work though. Especially in the world of gaming. Nostalgia is currently a huge industry in gaming, with many, many games being remastered and rereleased. Whilst some of these games aren’t necessarily great in themselves, if you had fun playing them at the time, chances are you will now. But not every time. Speaking from personal experience, I recently bought a rereleased version of a game that was one of my favourites a few years ago, only to get bored playing it. Acting on your nostalgia isn’t always the best course of action.
There are worlds that I love, so will always want to spend time in them, regardless of the quality of the product (hello Star Wars prequels and the Hobbit movie trilogy ). This isn’t necessarily nostalgia, but it does combine it with the feeling of being in that world the first time I was there and falling in love. There’s also the element of wanting to introduce your kids to the things that you loved when you were young. You want them to feel the same things you felt, because you’re nostalgic of those times. I know this is something of which I am guilty (hence my son having Fanattik Harry Potter wall decals in his bedroom!).
Whatever your thoughts are on nostalgia, it’s here to stay, and long may it survive!