Why You Should Never Blow On Your Game Cartridges

You're as freaking old as I am, or you have older siblings who still have video games on those weird giant cartridges? Then you've probably blown into one of those or seen someone do it, right? Well, today we're going to explain why you shouldn't blow into your cartridges.

Dont blow in cartridge
Do not blow into the cartridges! | © Shaktisinh Rana/EarlyGame

For all the youngsters among our readers, let me briefly explain what this is all about. In a time before smartphones, apps and touchscreens, video games were not downloaded directly to the console. No, most games weren't even available on CD (those round, flat things that go into a discman)! In the good old Nintendo days, you had to buy games on so-called cartridges. These huge cartridges were then inserted into the console to play Super Mario or whatever games you owned.

Maybe some of you at least remember the Game Boy. Up to the Game Boy Advanced, smaller versions of such cartridges were used in those handhelds as well. If you changed these cartridges all the time or left them in the drawer for a longer period of time, and they slowly gathered dust, it could occur that a game wouldn't start when inserted into the console.

The typical trick to solve the issue simply was to blow into the bottom of the cartridge and voilà, the game usually worked again.

Don't Blow Into The Nintendo Cartridge!

If you think about it, it actually makes sense to blow into them. The cartridges are open at the bottom, and inside are the contacts that plug the game into the console (as seen in the picture below). So a logical reason for a game not starting could be that the contacts are dusty – blowing into them should solve the problem, right?

Nintendo Cartridges
Here is a Nintendo Cartridge. | © Nintendo

However, as it turns out, blowing on the contacts does nothing. Simply removing the game and reinserting it into the console is actually enough to solve the issue, since, if the game doesn't start, it's usually just the contacts not being properly aligned. Actually, blowing into the Cartridge can cause more harm than good.

Why? Well, if you blow into the cartridges, some moisture will always get onto the contacts. Even if you don't spit while blowing, your breath always has a high humidity. Just breathe on a window, and you'll see how it fogs up. I don't think I need to mention that electronics and moisture don't get along very well, right?

So even if water doesn't get directly into the cartridges or the console, the moisture causes corrosion on the contacts. This makes it more and more difficult for the console to recognize the cartridges, and at some point the contacts are so bad that the game no longer works.

Where Does The Blow Theory Come From?

But where does the myth that you have to blow into your Nintendo cartridges come from? It's simple psychology. It is the so-called argumentum ad populum. What kind of strange language is that, Romans have been dead for a long time? Well, don't worry, I'll explain it to you:

An argumentum ad populum can also be called a common belief fallacy. Humans tend to believe things when important people or a majority does so too. So if all your friends believe that Justin Bieber is awesome, there's a good chance you'll believe it too. Might not be the best example, but you get what I mean, right?

Basically, some gamers used to realize that if they blew into their cartridges, these would suddenly work again. They spread the word, and at some point this misconception took hold in the gaming community. In truth, simply removing and reinserting the cartridges would have done the trick – blowing has always been completely unnecessary.

That's about it. Now you're all a little smarter and can tell your parents what they used to do wrong when they were gaming.

You aren't old enough for cartridges and just want to know everything about GTA6? Here you go: