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Why are video games not looked down on the same way things like movies are?


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It's kind of hard to put what I am thinking into words but hopefully you guys understand.

 

We have film institutes that go to great lengths to preserve movies, etc. They maintain their "100 years, 100 movies" list.

They maintain a list of lost movies, movies that have become lost over time and may no longer exist, a very notable example is "The Miracle Man" from 1919

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Miracle_Man_(1919_film)

 

We have museums for preserving antiques and other miscellaneous stuff, most of which everything and anything in any museum you could just consider " Worthless, Old junk" We have the National Register of Historic Places which goes to great lengths, that spends a great deal of money, time and effort preserving nasty old, mold infested buildings because they are "historic" or because the guy that invented the butter knife lived there, so now the place is "historically important" and we must pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into preserving his house to remember his great contribution to society by inventing the butter knife. (Okay, I just made that butter knife incident up now and i'm just ranting and going off on a tangent and my rant is starting to make no sense.)

 

Yet a copy of Red Sea Crossing was found in 2007, and people at Atariage wanted to get the rom dumped (basically, we were acting as the American Film Institute or National Register Historic Places equivalent for Atari games and other retro games) to preserve it for generations to come in the event the cartridge would succumb to bit rot, so the game would not become "lost" like that Miracle Man movie from 1919 that is lost and is now highly sought after, and yet we are looked down on as a bunch of fruit cakes that are inexplicably interested in "Obsolete technology" Yet people going insane over a movie from 1919 is seen as completely normal, or wanting to put underwear that George Washington wore in a museum to preserve it aren't seen as crazy in the slightest.

 

And comments from people like that Steve guy that programmed that Red Sea Crossing game thinking we are crazy for "being interested in obsolete technology" Which leads to my point, why are video games looked down on and not movies, music, paintings, buildings, and numerous other things? Rogert Ebert, one of the most famous movie critics, once said video games can never be art. You don't look at the original Star Wars movies and go "EWWWWWW those are SO old! The special effects are so dated and the special effects were all created with obsolete technology! Why waste time watching some old, crusty movie made with obsolete technology when you could be watching a new movie?"

 

(I just recently read that entire original Red Sea Crossing thread from 2007 when Nagn2 found it for 50 cents at a yard sale a few days ago and that is what inspired me to start this.)

 

Edit:Can a mod please change the thread title to "Why are video games looked down on, while other things like movies are not?" Or something similar. Made a mistake typing the title and don't know how to get in touch with a mod. Thanks

Edited by Pink
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Video games for the most part still roam the realm of kitsch, shallow easy entertainment. The same way no one is fighting to protect B-movies or random books from maybe not so relevant writers, most people involved into history, art etc.. aren't that interested in games.

 

Now that is one side of it. The other side of it is, I think most scholars don't really know video games, and therefore don't really have much interest on that. Up to that point, that's to be expected.

 

To close it out, Gaming is huge, but 99,9% of it (at least) is just people looking for the aforementioned "kitsch, shallow easy entertainment", and don't really take games seriously anyway. You're talking about game preservation? If there was any worry about that, games wouldn't be released with all that DRM, patches, digital only, online only etc.. Even creators in this industry are more worried about their quick buck than they are interested in the future life of their work.

 

This post just barely scrapes the surface of such a discussion and I don't really have the tools to have this discussion. But yeah. The gaming industry and the Gamers don't really do much to be taken seriously, so they can#t really expect ousiders to takem them seriously. On top of that Gamers and the industry don't even take themselves seriously, so at that point, yeah. You can just forget it.

 

I personally believe games are a form of art, but unfortunately we don't really have many people really trying to make works of art in this medium that compare to what other medium have from the people who take them seriously. What are our masterpieces? What games can be considered uncompromised works of art?

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My (probably unpopular) opinion, the industry (aka not indies) has produced almost nothing in the way of social commentary, or that shines a light on the human condition, or explores human interaction or relationships. These are things that impact peoples' lives. It's about the connection of people to what they're watching and how people bring it back to their own lives. They make a large and lasting impression. For the most part, games have not done that. Film has. Games have just about reached the "summer blockbuster" level. If that's all movies were you wouldn't see the cultural impact. Think about documentaries that have gotten widespread distribution, or the artsy (aka slow, boring ;)) films that win Oscars. Obviously a lot of people like those. Even something like Miracle of 34th Street.

 

A related bit is that the video game industry grew up too quickly. It went from small hobby to big business in a decade or two. As a result, it went quickly to limited opportunities for diverse output. I would argue the industry was much more diverse and produced more mature games in the 80s & early 90s - major players produced tons of war games, history games, simulators of all kinds. It was more Wild West, more companies were willing to experiment. There were a lot more publishers. Quickly the industry coalesced around war, fantasy and sci-fi, and boiled everything down to 1st and 3rd person shooters. Again, I'm talking specifically about the industry. Indie developers these days are doing a lot of interesting and diverse stuff, although nobody's ever going to hear about it.

 

Another factor may simply by the nature of games, the interaction, pushes games towards action and faster psychological reward. How many people complainin about unskippable cut scenese?

 

Of course, all this does not mean games aren't a form of art. I think games can excel in letting feeling like your'e somewhere else. They give you a way to experience something in a different way than books or film.

 

Personally, I'm fine with games being what they were. GOG.com will keep me happy for the rest of my life. I neither need nor wish they were "something more." I have a million books at my disposal if I want something deeper.

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Considering it took many decades before anyone even thought about preserving and holding onto old movies I'm not surprised. There's a reason that some 90% of silent films are lost (and similarly, early TV programs up into the 70s). Hell, how many of these old movies were even in circulation in any form until VHS and Turner Classic Movies came along to prove there was a market? It took a long time for them to be taken seriously as something to be preserved, celebrated, and kept available outside of the enthusiast set. The rights to older movies seem much more straightforward too - really early stuff probably fell into public domain before Congress changed copyright laws, and it's relatively easy to trace who owns which library today for the most part for newer films (and those companies that own these films are likely going to be film companies, which again, have had decades to realize old movies are worth hanging onto). Tracking down game ownership? Nightmarish, and given that the current owners may not actually be game companies it'll take more work to get anything back into circulation. And thanks to the relative newness of the medium, unless something was specifically made public domain it's all under someone's copyright, so you don't get the fly by nights and the fans selling early stuff without a copyright. Good luck convincing Philips that its worth republishing Odyssey2 games for a modern platform at this stage in the game, or whoever might own Astrovision's licenses for the Bally Professional Arcade library. It's even more of a mess if you start getting into Japanese games, since now you're dealing with the Japanese owners and whoever the heck has the overseas license. I think there's growing recognition that there's money to be made off of old games, but it's still pretty early.

 

That all said... you've got the Strong Museum, you've got the National Videogame Museum, you've got organizations in the US and Japan focused on preserving games and ephemera, the Library of Congress and a number of universities have game archiving and preservation programs today, and even the Smithsonian has an exhibit about Ralph Baer and his brown box. I think we've already started reaching a period where video game history is looked at more seriously.

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Video games are still too new. Motion Pictures didn't have the Oscars till the early 30's, about two decades after they were first invented*.

 

It is getting better; the 20th anniversary of Pong's debuted went largely unnoticed. Today there are museums and awards for classic games. The Smithsonian even had a video game exhibit a few years ago.

 

And there are still people who can't stand to watch old movies; who don't see the worth of preservation.

 

*It's hard to pin down an exact date for Motion Pictures' invention; it built on previous technology, advances in cameras and film. It's fair to say a zoetrope or a magic lantern show isn't what most folks would think of as a modern movie, so I'm going with the early 1900's/late 1800's.

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You don't look at the original Star Wars movies and go "EWWWWWW those are SO old! The special effects are so dated and the special effects were all created with obsolete technology! Why waste time watching some old, crusty movie made with obsolete technology when you could be watching a new movie?"

 

Sadly, a lot of people do that very thing.

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I think it's going to take quite a while before video games are recognized as something more than disposable interactive toys. Movies didn't start out as toys for kids, and the same can be said of theater, music, etc. Even today, when someone brings up the topic of video games in a casual way, people automatically think of cute characters like Mario, Sonic, etc. Some companies like Nintendo capitalize on this, and it doesn't help the medium to be taken seriously.

 

And yet, the medium is growing on its own merit. Just last week, I watched the entire walkthroughs of Half Life and Half Life 2 on YouTube. Such walkthroughs are first-person movies that last hours and in my opinion, they're just as engaging as "regular" movies. When I learned that Half Life 3 was nothing more than vaporware, it made me go "Awww man! I really wanted to see what happens next in that story!".

 

Over the last few years, I've seen walkthroughs of all the BioShock games, the modern Wolfenstein games, the most recent Tomb Raider game, Duke Nukem Forever, God of War and several others. I even recall eating pop-corn while watching some of them. And the weird part is that watching these walkthroughs doesn't really tempt me to play the actual games, I just enjoy what I'm watching and when it's over, I move on to something else as my free time permits.

 

This tells me that video games are a rich and diverse medium, but right now, it can only be appreciated by those in direct sustained contact with it, and you have to look further than Pac-Man, Mario and Mega Man to realize its true potential for storytelling. This potential has barely been tapped into so far, and it can only be taken seriously if the medium forges its own identity, away from other visual mediums like movies and TV shows.

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I personally believe games are a form of art, but unfortunately we don't really have many people really trying to make works of art in this medium that compare to what other medium have from the people who take them seriously. What are our masterpieces? What games can be considered uncompromised works of art?

 

I also think of them as a form of art. As for the general public -- maybe a game like Bioshock 2 might have a chance of being categorized as art.

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The perception of videogames continues to rapidly evolve. It's a bit unfair to compare it to most other media, which, at their youngest, has been around for decades longer, and has generally been of the non-interactive variety. Videogames are both a younger and more complex form of media, two traits that don't lend itself to quite the same reflection/introspection/preservation/respect. Again, though, things continue to improve in that area and there's no reason to think that eventually videogames won't be regarded as the highest of art forms and all that implies.

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Video games *can* be a form of art, but they're rarely created to be such and even more rarely "accidentally" end up fitting that description. Mostly they're just commodities created to make the most money possible. They're more similar to Hollywood blockbusters like the Transformers movies, which not many people would argue are art.

 

I do agree that games like the Bioshock series were both created as art and could legitimately claim to actually be art. So yes, games can be art, but they're usually not. And this is no different than how something like TV was perceived up until very recently.

 

This isn't a new debate. But I also think that a lot of gamers don't really understand what art is. A game that has a lot of pretty pictures but then has a mess of a story that doesn't really say anything, bad voice acting, and clunky controls is not art. A lot of people who are on the "games are art" side of this debate have a very superficial view of art, and don't really understand why it is that films are thought of that way. (A lot of really ugly films are considered high art, because there's more to art than visual beauty.)

 

I'd also argue that games have a higher bar than other mediums, because there are more aspects to a video game than other mediums. A film only has to tell a linear story. A game has to give you an interactive experience. There's a lot that can go wrong, artistically. The more complex the game, the harder it is to justify it as high art, because every aspect that I mentioned earlier, plus more, is going to have to reach that standard. I would argue that most of the games I'd consider art are simple games where less can go wrong. A game like Rez is definitely art, though it's "just" a rail shooter. But the fact that it is a rail shooter I think helps it stay cohesive and avoid some of the artistic pitfalls of, say, a massive RPG which might have a confused story, annoying characters and a lot of grinding.

 

I also agree with those that say movies weren't really all that well recognized initially either... and like video games, they also didn't really deserve to be. There were a few standout films in the 1910's and 20's (which would have been close to 30 years after the medium first developed), but film overall didn't really come into its own artistically until the 1930's and 40's. And the reasons for that were both some important technical advancements as well as a larger crop of budding filmmakers who by then knew the process and weren't just abusing the novelty of a new medium; from that larger crop, more talented filmmakers bubbled up. But it wasn't until after those filmmakers had been around for a while and had put out a good crop of films that the medium really started getting serious recognition as art, and it took academics like Andre Bazin and the Cahiers du Cinema (who went on to form the French New Wave, which is still influencing films today) to really bring artistic respect to film. So not really until the early 1960's.

 

The same process is happening in gaming. We're about 40 years into it now and there are some really talented, artistic people working in the industry at this point. And some of the games they're making are definitely art. But it's going to take a while longer still for recognition of that fact to really take hold, and like it or not, there are going to have to be serious academic discussions of video games for it to happen. That's how we recognize exactly *what* makes games art, which helps us identify what is art and what isn't. That had to happen with film before it was recognized as art. (And I don't mean we need a 500 word blog post on Kotaku; I mean we need stuff like Bazin's "What is Cinema?" or Eisenstein's "Film Form" but for games.)

 

Not everybody reads books like those, but important people to the public do (people like Roger Ebert, who was also in this "games are art" debate) and that then filters down. And that helps everybody develop kind of a vocabulary, and a method of judging art from not art. I don't think we have that vocabulary yet for games, so we have no good way to judge but by applying the same criteria we use for other mediums. And that's problematic. But that vocabulary will come, someday.

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My (probably unpopular) opinion, the industry (aka not indies) has produced almost nothing in the way of social commentary, or that shines a light on the human condition, or explores human interaction or relationships.

 

I can disagree, because, Missile Command and nukes and all that.

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Video games *can* be a form of art, but they're rarely created to be such and even more rarely "accidentally" end up fitting that description. Mostly they're just commodities created to make the most money possible. They're more similar to Hollywood blockbusters like the Transformers movies, which not many people would argue are art.

 

That's true of today's games. Today's skinner boxes do everything they can to get into your wallet.

 

In the beginning it was a new artform opening up. The VCS was proudly manufactured and sold. As were things like the first home computers. You can tell by simply looking at the packaging materials and attention to detail.

 

Some games take a modicum of intelligence to either set-up or play. Not everyone has that.

Edited by Keatah
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Video games for the most part still roam the realm of kitsch, shallow easy entertainment. The same way no one is fighting to protect B-movies or random books from maybe not so relevant writers, most people involved into history, art etc.. aren't that interested in games.

 

Exactly. Think of video games much like pulp fiction or even Harlequin romance novels.

 

Most of this stuff is cheap, mass-market, popular entertainment of little enduring value. With perhaps a few exceptions, it has had no significant cultural impact, and so it is mostly ignored (rightly or wrongly) by the keepers of cultural heritage.

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And comments from people like that Steve guy that programmed that Red Sea Crossing game thinking we are crazy for "being interested in obsolete technology" Which leads to my point, why are video games looked down on and not movies, music, paintings, buildings, and numerous other things? Rogert Ebert, one of the most famous movie critics, once said video games can never be art.

I disagree with this sentiment. Going all the way back to the golden era arcade games, characters were made out of simplistic pixels, often 16x16 or 8x8 or smaller. Every sprite is a piece of art, even if designed on graph paper and inscribed into machine code.

 

Fast forward to modern games, every asset in the game from the graphics to the modeling to the cutscenes, dialog, story, to the soundtrack is composed by artists of all disciplines. Video games are interactive medium which rewards players for their skill of execution. So the very act of playing a game can be considered an art form. When i play Zelda Breath of the Wild, I see intelligent design in the nature of the universe, architectural ruins, wildlife, enemies, even each aspect of the game has it's own style. The Gurudo (desert women), Rito (bird people), Gorons (rock warriors), Zora (fish people), and obviously Hylians (humans) each have there own customs and unique art styles. Ancient Tech has a sculpted look and unique color pallet. Etheral soundtracks, cutscenes of recovered memories that cast a glimpse of former Hyrule glory (pre Ganon).

 

Sorry but the hundreds of artists and developers who make games like this possible get thrown under a bus when a person states that video games cannot be considered an art form. I feel something when I play as Link. The game speaks to me, and I connect with it, not unlike a good book, sound recording, painting, sculpture, or movie. One final difference however is the player influences the outcome by controlling the character. The player is no longer a 3rd party or omnipotent observer, but a participant. In this manner games provide a much deeper level of interaction not possible by traditional art forms which are more passive.

 

So while video games have not been around for very long in comparison to traditional arts, literature, music, stage performances, and yes, movies, they all exist in some way to stimulate the mind or entertain. One severe issue with video games however, is the ability to translate from one medium to another. It is very easy to reproduce and convert for instance an illustration, novel, sound recording, or motion picture from one production format to another.

 

For instance you can easily buy a print of Van Ghough's Starry Night, a vinyl record of Beetoven's 5th Symphony, or a Bluray of The Wizard of Oz. Video games started life in the arcades as forms of amusement before invading the home, and let's face it most early pre-crash era video games were poor representations of their superior arcade counterparts, much as an early hand cranked wax cylinder player was a poor substitute for enjoying a live concert. But let me digress for a moment.

 

Vdeogames are sophisticated programs running on a limited purpose computer hardware specifically designed to run said game. So while it is possible to port a specific game to multiple incompatible machines, it is a long and arduous process of recreating the original within the platform's limitations such that the resultant port often plays very differently to the original arcade game. So the portability of games as an art medium takes an immediate hit in that each game can only be enjoyed on the special purpose hardware it was designed for. It is far easier to remaster movies, audio, or books from one medium to the next. Books can be reprinted or digitized with no loss of quality. A film master can be scanned and duplicated easily onto vhs, laserdisc, dvd, or bluray. Same with a master reel-to-reel tape recording can be converted to cassette, vinyl, or cd. Art, paintings, illustraitions get scanned and reprinted.

 

Video game reoriduction require either original hardware in wirking condition, or an intact copy of the source program without errors, translated in realtime by an emulator designed specifically to run it on a modern platform. Or it can get ported by developers to a new platform at great expense. As a result, the earning potential of a game declines rapidly as a given system is put to rest or discontinued. So much like silent era film, they become disposable commodities as producers chase the next big thing. Licenses expire and companies go defunct. Rights are squatted or in some cases become abandoned altogether.

 

With physical media seemingly in it's twilight years, preservation will become even more difficult as digital downloads and drm take over and replace plastic shells or discs. And even physical games that survive will suffer from lack of dlc content and bugfixes provided by updates. I believe public interest in preservation will change over time, but not before much of the content is lost for good. The fact that we can start a dialog about it now is a step in the right direction. It is sad however that today's software pirates may well become the heroes to future generations of gamers by preventing much content from getting lost to time. At no point in human history has it been easier to create backups... :ahoy:

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I think movies may be a bad analogy or one that could cause video games to become less regarded instead of more. When I think of a movie I think of the video version of a play but when I think of a video game I think of the video version of sports, board games, card games, or any other game. So, if video games become highly regarded but more like interactive movies that eventually barely have any game play at all and playing is more like acting then it would seem less regarded instead of more. As an example of what I'm trying to say let's compare two hypothetical futures. In one the best video game players are thought of being like Hollywood celebrities but in the other they are thought of being like sports stars. By sport stars I mean people watch e-sports on TV and take the games a seriously as watching the Super Bowl. I would consider the sports stars future one where video games are highly regarded.

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Video Games are still a very young medium. It wasn't until the past 10-15 years that they became even somewhat mainstream. Prior to that, they were still one of those toys that kids played with. Even now, when it's common for adult men to play Madden and Call of Duty, gaming is still foreign to many women and most older adults. Even those adult men who play Madden and CoD have largely never heard of Shadow of the Colossus or Okami or Club Drive or Journey or other highly artistic games.

 

And that's another problem: those games that are widely known to non-gamers or casual gamers tend to be the least artistic games. Yes, even Madden has artistic merits, but the experience it gives the player a far cry from the emotions experienced at the end of, say, The Last Guardian.

Edited by PFG 9000
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And that's another problem: those games that are widely known to non-gamers or casual gamers tend to be the least artistic games. Yes, even Madden has artistic merits, but the experience it gives the player a far cry from the emotions experienced at the end of, say, The Last Guardian.

 

The current Madden actually has a moving/interesting story mode. Most of the EA sports games have that type of mode now. So there's easily an equivalent to something like what's experienced at the end of The Last Guardian, in addition to all the other stuff.

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Video games are preserved in France.


Since 1992, it was decided that video games, being written programs, intellectual ideas, were to be preserved in the same fashion than books or video.


The BNF (Bibliothèque Nationale de France; French National Library) preserve video games. It started in 1992,with games from French editors only, but they expanded their collection to older ones and international titles published in France very quickly.




171117-cnjv.png

"Saving to memory!

Saving the videogaming heritage

Why? Who?

Meeting organised by the National Conservatory of Video Game (a French law 1901 non-profit association) and the French National Library"


The Ministry of Culture even delivered prices to video games in the 1980's !



1051201670.jpg



The sticker read as "1st Arcade Prize - Ministry of Culture 1984"


Although to be honest, those preservation efforts were very weakly followed up to the late 2000's, espcially since only a few French ditors remained active and alive. Since then it got a big boost again, and the BNF often seek advice from the MO5.com association, one of the most famous French association of retrogaming, with a massive collection of machines, and Philippe Dubois cting to prserve video gaming in general.
Edited by CatPix
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It's kind of hard to put what I am thinking into words but hopefully you guys understand.

 

...

 

Yet a copy of Red Sea Crossing was found in 2007, and people at Atariage wanted to get the rom dumped (basically, we were acting as the American Film Institute or National Register Historic Places equivalent for Atari games and other retro games) to preserve it for generations to come in the event the cartridge would succumb to bit rot, so the game would not become "lost" like that Miracle Man movie from 1919 that is lost and is now highly sought after, and yet we are looked down on as a bunch of fruit cakes that are inexplicably interested in "Obsolete technology" Yet people going insane over a movie from 1919 is seen as completely normal, or wanting to put underwear that George Washington wore in a museum to preserve it aren't seen as crazy in the slightest.

 

And comments from people like that Steve guy that programmed that Red Sea Crossing game thinking we are crazy for "being interested in obsolete technology" Which leads to my point, why are video games looked down on and not movies, music, paintings, buildings, and numerous other things? Rogert Ebert, one of the most famous movie critics, once said video games can never be art. You don't look at the original Star Wars movies and go "EWWWWWW those are SO old! The special effects are so dated and the special effects were all created with obsolete technology! Why waste time watching some old, crusty movie made with obsolete technology when you could be watching a new movie?"

 

(I just recently read that entire original Red Sea Crossing thread from 2007 when Nagn2 found it for 50 cents at a yard sale a few days ago and that is what inspired me to start this.)

 

Edit:Can a mod please change the thread title to "Why are video games looked down on, while other things like movies are not?" Or something similar. Made a mistake typing the title and don't know how to get in touch with a mod. Thanks

 

The thing is, there's always two angles to the problem being solved:

 

a) Is this worth preserving

 

and

 

b) What happens to the value if it's preserved?

 

 

For the most part, there are few games that are worth preserving unless it was either "the first game to do X" or "the best game to implement X", as a lot of games (look at steam right now and all the asset flip fake games) value is hinged on what it was known for. If it was simply known for being a cheap knockoff/bootleg/counterfeit of something else, then it's value is that of curiosity, not of historical significance.

 

Nobody really cares about curiosity other than to know it exists, and if we forget about it, often it didn't add any value.

 

For example, the "ET" game for the 2600 has a notoriety around it, that it's often referenced in pop culture, and in other video games, and thus people who are aware of what exactly Atari did (there is an entire 3rd act of Hyperdimension Neptunia re;birth 3 that talks about 'Tari, and a miniquest to find trash games from the lost 'Tari civilization.) The Neptunia games are all pretty cheeky ways of representing the console wars without outright anyone saying anyone actually won.

 

Likewise Donkey Kong set precedents about copyright law.

 

Yet, there are also undumped games like Marble Madness 2 which exist, but should the owner of the machine die, or the machine be destroyed in a fire, that game is lost to us for good. When StarFox 2's beta was found, someone dumped it, but later Nintendo included it on the Super Nintendo Classic, and it too probably got dumped to the internet.

 

Like the problem with game preservation in general is that up until Bleem! there was no game preservation going on. It was seen as piracy. There are people out there that simply believe they are doing what is right and holding onto copies of software (regardless if they bought it or not) because X years from now people will want to know what those games were like. But there is also an entire section of pirates who will buy nothing, with impunity. So there is friction between the preservation pirates and the anti-capitalist pirates. The consequences for both is we end up with rubbish DRM, online-only games, and rubbish like gachapon/lootboxes replacing gameplay. BSX games (Sattellaview for the SNES) is an example of where entire games are lost because they were broadcast to the Satellaview, and unless someone recorded it with a VCR, we have no idea what was in the game, or how it was supposed to work.

 

There are also BBS "door" games that have been lost because dial-up BBS systems are essentially extinct. "who cares about text adventure games" you might say, but those games actually were interesting and predecessors to social media games. It's unlikely anyone will want to play one of these games now because you can just storm through it with unlimited time and no more long distance charges.

 

In my personal experience, what is worth preserving starts with Arcades. You can not replicate the Arcade experience, nor can you replicate the game hardware at present. So the idea of getting a high score on a emulation environment is just not exciting since you will be the only person playing it.

 

Next are PC (including PCjr/Tandy1000)/Mac/Amiga games, particularly those games that predate Windows 95/MacOS X. Although we have sufficient software emulation environments to run them, the experience is just not the same without the original hardware, and many people had different experiences depending if they had appropriate color monitors, sound cards and joysticks. So their nostalgia for a game may not reflect the experience they had. The first two games I ever played with a sound card were Ultima 7 and Sierra's EcoQuest, and in both cases the first time you hear speech out of the PC it was like "WOW, I didn't expect that!" , even though speech is now a standard thing of games, nothing will replicate the experience of suddenly hearing speech where previously there was none.

 

Game consoles, particularly 8-bit and 16-bit systems, would come after those computer games, cartridges for these systems are the only way to play these games authentically, and while software emulation exists, there is latency and emulation accuracy issues that render playing most of these games for these systems not accurate enough to know why something with tight input was amazing to play. Like if you played the Mario games on original hardware on a CRT, it was absolutely amazing back in 1986. Today people just won't get it.

 

When we entered the 32-bit era on the PC and game consoles, preservation started to take a nose dive, DRM measures practically ensure that games will be forever lost, and indeed many indie people's shareware and demo's have been lost (and not all of it people would care about.) It wasn't until relatively recently with Steam Greenlight, and later the current monstrosity that anyone with a compiler or game toolkit could produce some shovelware and get it on steam.

 

A lot of shovelware people really don't care if it stops existing. The app stores, many of those apps are going to just simply stop being updated, and when people trade up their devices, those apps disappear. Social media games (eg games that require you to empty your wallet to play) will be the first to be lost the game often require an account on some server to keep track of what you bought, and update your game from the cloud when you switch devices. They are effectively incomplete games at all time. MMORPG will pretty much be unpreservable as part of the experience requires other people to play them in a party. Good luck replicating that experience.

 

So as more games move towards social media/online-only interactions, more games will be lost, and many of them will be lost and forgotten about except through video recordings. To give an example Final Fantasy XIV version 1.0 is already lost. People captured packets during the end and have made inroads towards producing a private server to preserve the original game play, but it will never be complete, nor will it ever be able to replicate the original experience. People who play V2.0 often mention how something in FFXIV 1.0 was a little better, but would not want a return to V1.0 except to play the storyline. Fortunately people did capture at least the cutscenes from it, and what you can do with the existing private server work is play them back, but you largely can't do anything but wander an aimless empty map otherwise. Similar things have happened with Ultima Online and World of Warcraft.

 

To answer the subject directly, video games are complicated.

 

A video game is not a house, preserving historical houses is often done to preserve the architecture or history of a building, but not all buildings are worth saving, and typically heritage buildings eventually are destroyed by environmental factors (eg fire/wind/flood) and taking pictures of it doesn't replicate the experience at all. Some early VR tech tried to do this but it's just not the same.

 

Compared to artwork, there are counterfeits/replicas of modern art, but the original's value, entire value, is in the original work, and such works are kept in museums for others to enjoy, but they are still owned by someone. When works are stolen or destroyed, they are gone for good, and often paintings have to be "fixed" every few decades due to atmospheric conditions making the paint dirty or discolored. This is how some paintings were discovered to have "earlier drafts" or "last minute changes" when they were scanned to preserve the look before cleanup.

 

A video game however is equal parts software and hardware. Preserving the hardware is not an indefinite thing, while preserving the software can be. But only if someone decides to make that decision to not honor the developer's copyright. Until Microsoft "licence agreements" software was often considered covered by the same copyright law as music and art. The binary code itself was not covered by those copyrights, because there is no way to run that binary code on anything but the original hardware. Hence Nintendo's lockout chip on US market NES systems.

 

If software was treated the same as modern film productions, all new games would be released to arcades first. Arcades would be everywhere. But no instead the only reason film theaters still exist at all is because there is an entire "box office" system that determines things like awards, royalties and such for the performers in the films.

 

The equivalent with video games would be for software to be in arcades for 6 months before home versions become available, but there are no awards based on this. Until digital sales became a thing, there was no way to even determine what game was #1 in any market except by counting sales made by dedicated game stores like Gamestop. So I don't know about you, but I'd rather be able to play a game now, rather than have to find an arcade to play it.

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Could be a format thing as well. Movies, even the earliest ones are basically celluloid and easy to transfer to any format. Books can be transfered to any format. Paintings are one offs usually, but even those can be stored in a range of formats.

 

Games on the other hand are dedicated, and usually mass produced. Its easier now, but not that long ago, it was incredibly hard to back them up. There are one offs, does anyone have tennis for two? (The earliest fully electronic game, as far as we know) pong is still around, mostly in private collections I assume. Console and computer games are everywhere, sure some will be lost, but due to their dedicated format, its not like you can just back it up anywhere. People with loved systems are spoiled and often forget that not all emulates work as well. 2600 vs jaguar for instance. 2600 gets lots of time poured into it and works very well, while jaguar, not so much.

 

Its not an age thing either, games currently go back nearly 50 years. 50 years in movies already had huge preservation efforts in place.

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When I think of a movie I think of the video version of a play but when I think of a video game I think of the video version of sports, board games, card games, or any other game.

 

And yet, Monopoly is pretty much the same as it ever was, and even console/pc versions don't change much.

 

Preserving a video game requires more than simply emulating the hardware environment in software. Much in the same way that preserving a film on VHS is not the same as watching the film the day it was released to the theater. Many people don't care about the theatrical experience, but the theater is what determines the success of that title and if it gets any sequels or if the director/producer do any more for that studio.

 

Like it really kills me to see titles embrace micro-transactions. 50 years from now, people are going to find these games with the original cloud servers long gone and wonder why anyone would spend hours tapping on a screen.

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