Handheld Histories: Collecting, Modding, and Playing the Portable Platform

Thirty years after its landmark 1989 release, Nintendo?s Game Boy and its long line of successors continue to capture the imagination of thousands of players who harbor a nostalgic attraction to the technologies of their youth. Montreal-based Retro Modding has developed a profitable business modifying (or ?modding?) old video game handhelds and selling them alongside tools and parts for do-it-yourself projects. These alterations combine today?s expectations for consumer electronics (like backlights and rechargeable batteries) with the iconic form factors of early handhelds. This research project, which documents Retro Modding?s history and its position within a larger gaming community, believes mods have a lot to say about the way people use their video game hardware in ways that exceed what Nintendo and other hardware manufacturers intended. This project investigates how practices of repair and modification emerge out of social, cultural, aesthetic and even environmental contexts, changing the way we think about video games and about obsolete technologies more generally.

Faculty Supervisor:

Darren Wershler


Alexandra Custodio


Retro Modding Inc




Consumer goods


Concordia University



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