Some time ago, during a live broadcast, accompanied by our deputy editor Domenico Musicò, we chatted with our readers about a rather sensitive topic: the preservation of old video games.
Compared to other means of communication, the video game communication medium does indeed have some rough edges to deal with: For example, the fact that certain machines are, at least in theory, required to run old software.
So during this chat we came up with a question that was difficult to answer: “In twenty years, when we’ll talk about it History of Video Games, will it be possible to just look at those farther away in time? How can we get her back?”
And that, mind you, emphasizes that The history of video games is not only made up of successful games, which marked the geological epochs of the development of the medium. It’s hard to imagine that one day we won’t be able to catch up Super Mario Bros.In summary.
Instead, what about those who were part of this story but are destined to be forgotten? If we wanted to immediately apply it to books by an author I love: how many The almost moon – less successful and therefore less “ambitious” – we players will lose over the years because we only cared about saving Lovable remains Why “that sells”?
According to the study published by the Video Game History Foundation, several. So What are we supposed to do here?to reiterate that the video game is a form of expression when The first to treat it as a money machine whose works can be destroyed is industry itself?
A medium without a story
As we used to argue in our special newsthe numbers published by the VGHF are rather merciless: 87% of video games released before 2010 are no longer in print and therefore it is no longer possible to restore it.
The numbers also take that into account remasters: If these are extremely faithful, they are considered a way of “recovering” the classic that they are re-proposing. If they make significant changes, they are considered a standalone game (eg Yakuza Kiwami)- while the classic fades into oblivion.
If you want a proportion that gives a good impression, only 10% of audio recordings made before WWII are still accessible today. We still have access to 14% of American silent films. And 13% of video games were released before 2010.
Today we can still access 14% of the silent films in American cinema. And 13% of video games were released before 2010.
“Introduce yourself if the only way to see titanic was to find a videotapeand still have a VCR to watch it» explained the VGHF and emphasized that this seems so absurd for the cinema that it borders on the grotesque. That’s just the way it is with video games.
“And imagine, no library, not even the Library of Congress, could do better: they could hold the VHS of titanic and digitize it, but you would have to physically go there to view it. It sounds crazy, but it’s the reality we live with video games: a $180 billion industry while video games and their history disappear».
Look in detail, i Data disclosed by the VGHF They are even more striking: only 15% of the games released between 2000 and 2004 are still easily available. No, we’re not talking about the very first classics that have been swallowed up by time. Today, 12% of the entire PlayStation 2 library is recoverable. For the glorious Commodore 64, we’re staying at 4.5%.
The problem is obvious: if we delve into the PS2 era in the future and retrace the history of video gaming, there will be a sinking hole in 88% of the games released on this platform – which we might be able to read about. of which we may even find videos, but which cannot be played.
AND How can you know a game if you can’t play it?
I decide what to sell you
Unfortunately, the video game preservation debate is not new. We discussed this some time ago on our pages with the video game archive of Bolognawhen we were faced with the closure of the PlayStation Store on Sony’s portable platforms.
And we know that history with the shutdown has been repeating itself lately Stores on some older Nintendo platforms – the last bastion where the games of their libraries could be found, at least digitally.
The always colorful Hideki Kamiya once pointed out that video games should be preserved “Corporate Duty”because there are many works that are no longer available and if they have physical copies, they obviously end up in the circle of collectors, a Numbers that are certainly not accessible to us mere mortals – and that in a speech with a completely different logic: the answer that you can always buy a classic for six thousand euros from a collector does not represent conservation, but only encourages attempts at scalping.
The only thing the industry is doing right now is dusting off some classics that come with subscription services from time to time, or trying to revive them through remastering (sometimes sold at prices that defy logic, but still).
This is no coincidence: as the VGHF pointed out, this would indeed be the case for ESA and its members unfavorable that classic video games were accessible in museums, libraries or similar cultural preservation institutions. In short, video games aren’t a matter of culture, even for those who create them: they’re just a matter of money. Even if they themselves would describe them as old-fashioned and outdated.
Forget the old – the new is bigger and better looking
Finally, there is a catchphrase that always refers to the way video games are presented (and sold) to us: the new, which is always more beautiful, larger, more extensive, more of everything. Unfortunately, that’s not unique to the annual video games – and in that respect, video games are a little like the presentation of the new smartphones, where things no one felt the need for are passed through miracles, creating a supply for a demand that doesn’t would exist if it weren’t painted that way The next big thing.
Video games do the same. The next episode of Game X It will be bigger than the old one, and it improves the graphics and it improves everything: in short, what are you doing with the old one It’s obsolete – buy the new one and play with it.
The silence on preservation comes with the fact that, in order to make a new release more palatable, the industry deviates from defining the previous chapter as obsolete.
Given how ingrained this philosophy is in the industry, it’s not surprising that video game preservation is all but non-existent. Unless they find a way to monetize them – understandably, these are not charities – publishers have neither the initiative nor seem to have any interest in preserving the memory of their classics, especially the less successful ones that aren’t rely on nostalgia advertising.
Of course, the big film companies aren’t charities either, and neither are publishers. In the case of video games, however, the resistance is right there: we haven’t yet figured out a way to draw a line and make people understand the weight Remember the phases of video gaming — and not just to list them in a book that traces their history, but to make these works accessible. Read more about the effect and formation of The fiancee and read The fiancee Those are two different things. Gamers are left with only the first option for many video game eras.
As the VGHF emphasized, there is currently no easy solution. However, a first step would be to recognize the problem, at least to be able to discuss it and try to find a solution.
If not, video games have the strength and stigma of being a medium, but video games are coming identified as products intended for consumption and throw it away and run to the next one it is bigger and more beautifuland not as works of creative genius – even by those who embody that industry.
If even we who say we love it or who work in this industry don’t believe in the maturity of video gaming as a work, then we do What future could there ever be for a medium doomed to tell their story in the second person?