Friday, February 13, 2009

Saving old games for posterity

I've always been a video game player. From the earliest Atari system to the video-game arcades of the 80's, through the Sega Genesis to the PS3, I've owned sysetms and played them for decades. One of the little joys of my life is using a software emulator (M.A.M.E.) to play old arcade and console video games on my computer. Donkey Kong, Galaga, Pac Man, et al -- they're a lot of fun. And the new games -- WOW! High Definition graphics, full 7.1 surround sound, interactive worlds of adventure: what a rush of adrenaline.

But there's a lurking problem. Many of the old games are hardware dependent, meaning that without the proper computer or console, they won't work. Sure, there are some emulators out there (as mentioned above, M.A.M.E.) , but it doesn't work for all games, and there are many consoles that don't have good emulators available.

Now there's an EU funded group that's trying to develop a software that will allow any game, from any generation, to be played. I think this is a worthy effort, but I'm hoping they aren't just looking at the gaming world - there was a lot of relevant and historically significant productive software that is being lost because there aren't any machines capable of running them anymore.

I really hope they succeed -- because we all need a little Donkey Kong now and then.

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