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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:07 am 
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I'm running into some anti-preservationists on other web forums. Zero__Kelvin claims: "There is zero need to play or preserve these games." Another user concedes that some, but only some, video games are worth preserving, particularly excluding most of the Atari shock dreck of 1983-1984. What are the strongest arguments for preservation of video games?

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 8:00 am 
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The crappiness of the pre-crash games is exactly why they need to be preserved. They could either be a footnote in an article about the game crash, or people could try them out and see for themselves.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 8:03 am 
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The fact that we are still making NES games in 2019 shows the importance of keeping as good a record as possible.

Preserving the ROMs, and functioning Hardware is essential to good emulation.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:39 am 
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One argument I can think of is it's hard to predict what future historians will want to investigate. If digital preservation takes up little physical resources, why not preserve as much as possible for future researchers to study? I'm not sure how strong that argument is.

I'm having a hard time coming up with other arguments because assigning value to something is a subjective opinion. If I say something has value, an opponent could say it doesn't have value, and there's no clear way to determine a winner in that kind of debate.

I looked at "Why Video Game Preservation Matters" from The Video Game History Foundation for ideas. They seem to argue that video games are worth preserving because lots of people think they have value:
* Video games generate a lot of revenue.
* Video games are subjects of books and movies.
* Other institutions (the Smithsonian, the Museum of Modern Art, the Library of Congress) have started video game collections.

(Also, beyond preserving game code that lets you play the game, they also emphasize it's important to preserve other contemporary materials like artwork, reviews, and ads.)


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:55 am 
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Arguing for preserving anything is always difficult. The decision depends on the value that future, not current, generations assign to it, which cannot be known today.

Regarding whether video games are more or less worthy of preservation than other items: given the amount of time people spend on using them and the size of their industry, it falls on those arguing against their preservation to explain why not when other forms of popular culture are. If the attitude is that only high culture is worth preserving and not popular culture, then that is quite an old debate with a lot of literature to quote from.

Regarding which games to preserve: preserving only the best, or preserving all but the worst, of any medium means that future generations cannot correctly appraise the quality of the preserved works relative to all other works of the time period, or to previous and subsequent works. All games should be preserved, at least in playable form. Given how small in particular the older works are, there is little cost in preserving everything. The decision may turn out differently if "preservation" means physical copies, of course.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 11:22 am 
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NewRisingSun wrote:
Arguing for preserving anything is always difficult. The decision depends on the value that future, not current, generations assign to it, which cannot be known today.

Regarding whether video games are more or less worthy of preservation than other items: given the amount of time people spend on using them and the size of their industry, it falls on those arguing against their preservation to explain why not when other forms of popular culture are. If the attitude is that only high culture is worth preserving and not popular culture, then that is quite an old debate with a lot of literature to quote from.

Regarding which games to preserve: preserving only the best, or preserving all but the worst, of any medium means that future generations cannot correctly appraise the quality of the preserved works relative to all other works of the time period, or to previous and subsequent works. All games should be preserved, at least in playable form. Given how small in particular the older works are, there is little cost in preserving everything. The decision may turn out differently if "preservation" means physical copies, of course.


One thing which is often under-appreciated is that the best lessons in history come often not from knowing reasons for doing various useful things, but reasons not to do various things that won't turn out to be useful. Unfortunately, history often fails to record the latter nearly as well as it records the former.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 3:51 pm 
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I've somewhat of a conflicted view.

On a general level, my view mirrors that of dougeff above.

But on the flip side, I quite often see "preservation" being used as a defence mechanism for what is actually hoarding (sometimes in hopes of financial gain, other times due to mental disorder, which would include feelings of self importance or social recognition, as well as coveting "prized" possessions). There are actual arcade games that people have which cannot be dumped and thus RE'd and emulated properly because butter hoarders do not want to physically let go of material goods. Quite honestly I think there is a dichotomy in the "preservation community": there are probably few people who wish to truly preserve things, while a large number of others have actual mental disorders that they mask through claims of "preservation".

But overall, in the grand scheme of humanity's lifetime, this stuff (video games) is nothing more than a drop of water in a pond. Historians a thousand years out will probably write about video games as a legacy form of human entertainment (a subject that history has covered fairly well, as it's part of our nature), but there is not going to be a passage about Action 52 nor why Night Trap was "controversial" (former summed up as "The quality of the entertainment varied, sometimes the buyer getting something worth their money, other times not", latter summed up as "Refer to: US politics, Christian coalition agenda, fearmongering"). I say all of this while having lived for 20+ years in the city harbouring the Computer History Museum (which I think is actually more relevant and important to human history archival than video game preservation).

So, in summary, my viewpoint is basically that preservation in digital form (ROM dumps) is a good idea for emulation and learning, but I also somewhat agree with Zero__Kelvin's general opinion (I read their replies as well) that the majority of these things are junk that at the end of the day aren't worth preserving. The person named sjbe summed it up on Slashdot quite well: "We don't have to save everything".

Think of it this way: some things are best left just to memory, having lived through the time period where they were relevant and experienced. It's OK to let things pass (and as a nostalgic, I too have difficulty with this sometimes). The Japanese term/concept 物の哀れ / mono no aware applies here, I think.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:58 pm 
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Rephrasing sentiments I've read:

"Preserving art in general is not a basic human need, at least not to the same extent as food, water, shelter, and current art. Humankind lost one of the Six Classics of Chinese literature in the 213 BCE burning of books, and we're still alive."

"Zero Flash videos or Flash games are among the list of games worth preserving."

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 9:41 pm 
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I think that preservation of video games is more important for the ones that experienced this stuff back in the day and are still alive, because of fondness and nostalgia for the things they know and like, and would like to keep having access to those things for as long as possible. For people in the distant future though, video games will probably be just a curiosity, I doubt anyone will want to seriously dissect or experience this rudimentary form of entertainment first hand.

Normal people nowadays go to museums, look at ancient artifacts and learn about old customs, but the vast majority doesn't really try to bring any of that stuff into their everyday lives, so I really don't see the exact binaries of 20th century video games being of any significant importance for people living 1000, 2000 years from now.

I'm generally pro-preservation though, but I personally won't ever go through the trouble of collecting every crappy game in existence, I'll leave that to the ones who actually enjoy said crap.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 11:58 pm 
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tepples wrote:
I'm running into some anti-preservationists on other web forums. Zero__Kelvin claims: "There is zero need to play or preserve these games." Another user concedes that some, but only some, video games are worth preserving, particularly excluding most of the Atari shock dreck of 1983-1984. What are the strongest arguments for preservation of video games?

Well I see 2 reason mainly:

1) Why not preserve them ? If you like them and like preserving them, I don't see how anybody could or should prevent you to.

2) Prequels to current games. If you play a modern game that have roots in the 1980s, you are very likely to be interested to play the prequel and/or the original version of a remade game. Even if you're playing a game that doesn't have roots, it might have been either inspired by other games that have roots in the 1980s that you'd want to paly, or have been made by the same company/developers before and you'd also want to play it.

Besides, you'd want to take a loot at this tweet on the subject.

Quote:
Regarding which games to preserve: preserving only the best, or preserving all but the worst

I think the worst games are definitely worth preserving, because it's incredible they would attempt to sell something that bad.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:00 am 
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One thing that gets ignored a lot in this conversation is that people for and against tend to only think of what value these games will provide to the average Joe, the normies, the masses, regular gamers, etc. Not a lot of ordinary folk will want to experience or play older games. However, from an academic standpoint, preserving video games is a huge boon. Many folks probably roll their eyes if you mentioned something like "video game historian", but I have no doubt that someday it will be a legit title for those involved in media studies. Preserving games would be absolutely essential to their work, akin to having materials in a library.

People are always going to question why XYZ thing should be studied or how it could anyone find a use for looking into old stuff. For all those who say no one will ever find themselves studying old video games, I call on them to consider that people get paid to research and teach about plenty of seemingly "irrelevant" things at universities. There are still English classes dedicated to Arthurian (King Arthur) literature, with a not so insignificant portion of the sources being written in Middle English, for example. If someone, somewhere is going to drag out a 600 year old poem about Sir Galahad, I can easily imagine a future scholar looking to learn more about Ice Climbers.

A lot of naysayers to video game preservation also point out that the quality (or lack thereof) means that no one will want to play them. Academics pursuing knowledge don't necessarily care about that stuff unless they're looking to critique something. When it comes to pure research though, wading through crap is a given and part of the process of obtaining information.

At any rate, people can toot their horn as much as they want against video game preservation. That won't stop it from happening, especially in this day and age, as piracy has the unintended consequence of putting information (i.e. games) online forever. Aside from games that rely on the internet (MMOs for example) and the issue of DLC and patches, many console and PC games are "out there" anyway, floating on the net. So even if people suddenly stopped emulation projects or databases like Redump, a lot of games would stick around, even if illegally.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:24 am 
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Preserve them because it's possible to do so. Any preservation that is possible to do is worth it. And this is not just for games. It makes me wonder that these people don't care about archeology at all, which instantly makes me disregard their opinion completely.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 7:50 am 
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One interesting aspect of the originally linked thread, is a weird assumption I see quite often...

People tend to mistake the right to distribute something for the ability to preserve it, and though I do believe a lot of people do care about preservation, I also see a lot of people just using it as an excuse argument for wanting to play games that they don't legally own.
One could potentially impact the other, but most likely won't. Spreading stuff into the possesion of as many people as possible is a notoriously crappy way of preserving anyhing. I think all the hacked NES ROMs we saw during the Nesticle days is an obvious proof of that. There are people out there doing genuine preservation work, and copyright has rarely been an obstacle in their path.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 9:40 am 
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Shonumi wrote:
Aside from games that rely on the internet (MMOs for example) and the issue of DLC and patches, many console and PC games are "out there" anyway, floating on the net.

The comments that prompted this topic arose from a question about how to preserve things that do rely on the Internet, whether for multiplayer interaction or just for digital restrictions management.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:00 am 
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Sumez wrote:
One interesting aspect of the originally linked thread, is a weird assumption I see quite often...

People tend to mistake the right to distribute something for the ability to preserve it, and though I do believe a lot of people do care about preservation, I also see a lot of people just using it as an excuse argument for wanting to play games that they don't legally own.
One could potentially impact the other, but most likely won't. Spreading stuff into the possesion of as many people as possible is a notoriously crappy way of preserving anyhing. I think all the hacked NES ROMs we saw during the Nesticle days is an obvious proof of that. There are people out there doing genuine preservation work, and copyright has rarely been an obstacle in their path.


Preservation and distribution should go hand-in-hand. Twenty years ago, when emulation was still something of a novelty, there were no real standards and "getting ROMs" was pretty much what everyone wanted. Dumping hardware was hard to come by and early stuff often hacked or added to games to get them running. Knowledge of hardware was spotty and incomplete. The ability to hack a game was something of a marvel then.

Today things are very different. Preservation-oriented dumping groups like No-Intro have existed for at least a decade and have vastly improved the quality of the dumps available. Better, more available dumping hardware and a greater understanding of cartridge hardware has lead to incredible improvements in emulation accuracy and dumping fidelity.

If no one can play the game, is it really preservation when locked into one person's archive? That preserves it for him and maybe his friends, but when he dies, the game will likely die with him. Ditto if his hard drive irreparably crashes and the data cannot be recovered and he didn't back it up and sold the cartridge to a collector with no interest in preservation.

Wide distribution of properly-curated, complete ROMsets and Images is the best way to ensure the preservation of software.

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