Monday, December 05, 2016

Keeping Retro "Fresh" for the Future

So many people are clamoring over the big news coming out of the Sony PlayStation Experience this weekend. Lots of sequels, game re-releases, and VR. If you want the summary, best to look it up on Kotaku. They have the best overview and stories so far.

Today I'd like to talk about our gaming history, and how difficult it is to preserve the titles of yester-year. Games produced before digital downloads can only be found on cartridges and CD's. Original prints of some early titles no longer exist due to poor storage and no back-ups. Like the early era of movies, a lot of companies felt that games would be a fad so they didn't save originals or copies of their products. Once the items was out of stock and the print run was done, the game files were disposed to make room for more content. This is partly why it's so difficult to find early Atari and Calicovision games: they no longer exist in a format that is easy to disseminate. You have to hope you can find the cartridge.

But it's not just the games that were released. There are thousands of games that never made it to store shelves that are just as much in need of preservation as anything else. Why? Because they tell the story of the creative process. They give insight into the development cycle that few get to experience. And they provide knowledge, content, sometimes new technologies that future games will utilize.

While sites like the Internet Archive are trying to keep digital versions of games from falling to the hands of time, it doesn't help the physical versions. Also, developers. People like to keep their secretes in the gaming world. Developers are going to be the biggest obstacle to overcome to preserving older or unreleased titles. They don't want people to have the codes, to have the originals, to have anything. And that sucks.

What are so ways to keep your floppy discs, cd's, and cartridges in good condition? Store everything in cold, dry, and dark places. No moisture. No sun. Both are the enemy to video games. Try to avoid cardboard boxes for storage, as they deteriorate over time, and look into Rubbermaid bins and tubs. If you play these games still, store them outside of their original boxes. Opening and closing some of those original NES, SNES, and N64 boxes does cause wear and tear along the edges. Only open those boxes if absolutely necessary.

But the best thing you can do is talk about retro games. Get people interested in learning more about your favorite titles to help preserve their history.

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