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Luigi Ruffolo
11-04-2021 at 12:14 PM
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  1. Salim Farhat's Avatar

    I'm going to repost something I wrote a while ago about why I believe that Video Game preservation through emulation was one of the greatest things to happen, and it was also among the absolute FIRSTS of preservation in human history compared to previous forms.

    This was written in 2018 when Nintendo started going after some people for posting the ROMS to their games online. and done on the NRA: Neon forums in Steam.

    Was this just with Nintendo roms? I remember I have had almost all the NES and SNES games out there and a handful of N64 and GC ones. It is still a shame.

    I want to mention this because this is something that pisses me on a fundamental level. But what these people are doing is helping in the destruction of gaming history. I don't mean this in the 'I can't get free stuff' but I mean this in the same sense that it is akin to locking up movies and books and heavily restricting who can view these things.

    The thing about emulation and why it is so important is that it allows us to preserve a very important piece of modern entertainment and art history. I would say this is more than just simple art and entertainment, but it is something that is integral to modern life and culture.

    Without roms or abandonware, most people would never be able to play the games in any real sense. I mean I never owned an NES or knew anyone who owned one. Most of my experience with consoles has been severely limited to just playing on a friend's machine or even using a display game in a mall for hours on end (or until I pushed my ability to play a single session standing up to its limit). Emulation is what opened those doors to me.

    A lot of gamers in the 2000s and 2010s even got their start in professional gaming or game collecting from playing emulation. Emulation is not now, nor was it ever about 'free stuff' It was about preserving the history and stopping it from fading away. The original games were kept on physical hardware that will one day be gone. Sure, there are some people who have functional Atari 2600s and even Odysseys from the 70s, but those are the exception and not the norm. They are going to die eventually.

    For arcade games that is even harder. Even in the late 90s I did occasionally get nostalgic for games that were barely a few years old at that point, simply because the arcades in my area had long since replaced them (or those arcades straight up closed down. It was always a volatile business). Just being able to get them on emulation allowed me not only to relive games I had loved, but also to explore them and others that I had only passed by once or twice and never got to play them at all.

    Denying people the ability to connect with the history of gaming like this is a crime. Video games are the only medium created in the 20th century that did not suffer what I call 'the early creation purge'. Let me explain. When movies were first invented, almost all silent era films made in the first 30 years of film history were lost. From 75% to 90% of all films from 1900 till 1929. Even the early sound film had atrocious losses with another 75% lost from 1929 till 1937. That's just for American movies.

    TV? The only surviving recordings from the 1930s when TV broadcasts started are from Nazi Germany. From the 1940s till the 1960s most TV broadcasts were never recorded and are gone.

    Video games are the only exception to this rule. The fact that we can play an original pong game from the early 70s, and then play the original space invaders from 1978 AND be able to play the countless adaptations it had on consoles and home computers from the late 70s/early 80s is an act of defiance. When NASA was thinking of ways to prevent a digital dark age as early as 1990s, gamers were already working on emulation. I mean the first emulator I got was Callus from 1998 (got it around 2000) and it blew my mind.

    Hell, what I love the most about NRA: Neon is the fact that it does a damn good job of recreating the feel of going to an arcade. I discovered it almost by complete accident at time when I really yearned for the old school arcades where I would often visit just to walk around and look at attract screens for extended periods of time, not playing only because of the lack of funds I had as a child and young teen.

    The worst thing is, Nintendo isn't even making all those games available on their online store for their Wii-u console. What they are doing is objectively wrong here.
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