Games Preservation going forward

I have a bigger predictions article in mind, but in the meantime, I just want to take the time to point out a big one:

It’s going to get harder to game.

Particularly, I am thinking of vintage, retro, classic games, etc.

While I think lots of companies have made good efforts in bringing classic games over to new platforms, either in the form of simple ports (like the final fantasy games, particularly 7 and 9), or in the form of overhauls (the many “remastered” editions), there are many, many games that are not in such a place. This might be due either to publisher neglect or simple economics (it costs money to port things, after all), and intellectual property laws could keep them in limbo. We also have the problem of modern ports, particularly android ports, breaking as the OS is updated, further limited access to modern users.

I fully expect ROMs, ISOs, and other forms of games media rips and backups to become immensely more difficult to find in the coming years. Considering that congress slipped in a criminal code change for streaming media into an “omnibus” or “emergency” bill, we should all predict that tighter controls are coming once congress switches over.

After all, the next congress and president are the most corporate-converged and controlled political class in the history of the world. “Protecting” their allies and donors will be a top priority, and the corporate wing of the Democrat party, namely the tech cartel, will enforce harshly anything that has legal backing to it, as they have with the DMCA.

I also fully expect places like the Internet Archive to be under attack, either through legal action or cartel action. Sailing the high seas will move further underground, which means it will be harder to find obscure items, even if you have a right to use them.

Add to this the failure of aging media and hardware from the 1980s through 2000s, and you have potentially a major problem for the preservation of an important modern art form for the common man.

Of course, there is also the problem of game content. We’ve already seen games disappear off of digital storefronts (such as Ducktales remastered), and I fully expect game deplatforming to catch up to book and video deplatforming in the coming years. Politically incorrect PC games are likely to be unpublished forever, meaning there is no practical way for a person to buy them at all. Older games might end up censored or disappearing from new catalogs. Unpersoning of game devs will also include memoryholing the games they made. This means holding onto some sort of preserved copy of games will become a more serious concern soon, at least if you want to share them with future generations.

So, I would recommend to anyone reading this that cares about video game preservation to take the time now to back up your games. Retroarch has a built-in dump program, and there are other utilities to help you rip your disks. There are still repositories of old ROMs, despite most of the sites being taken down over the last few years, and you should take the time to look through them for what you want to save, as most people lack the ability to rip an SNES cartridge.

I recommend you buy a solid hard drive or drive array to store your games, and to back it up every so often for when the drive inevitably fails. This is exactly what I will be doing in the near future to ensure I have access to my old games going forward and won’t have to pay for the latest port on the latest hardware in order to enjoy them (which, let’s be honest, most companies would prefer).

I’m an independent author. You can buy my books in digital or physical forms. If I get unpersoned they can’t delete my book off your home shelf.

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