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Preservation of Video Games

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Museums, Libraries, and Archives[edit]

Game specific[edit]

Europe[edit]

The Computerspiel Museum in Berlin, Germany.
  • Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines in Moscow, Russia.
  • Computerspielemuseum Berlin in Berlin, Germany.
  • Finnish Museum of Games in Tampere, Finland.
  • National Videogame Museum in Sheffield, United Kingdom.
  • Video Game Museum of Rome in Italy.

North America[edit]

  • The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York.
  • National Videogame Museum in Frisco, Texas.
  • The University of Texas Video Game Archive in Austin, Texas.
  • The Computer and Video Game Archive (CVGA) at the University of Michigan Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • Star Worlds Arcade in De Kalb, Illinois.
  • International Video Game Hall of Fame in Ottumwa, Iowa (Under development)
  • Montreal Video Game Museum in Montreal, Canada.

Other[edit]

  • The Nostalgia Box in Perth, Australia.

Related Collections[edit]

Museums or collections of other subjects that include Computer Game or Video Game history.

Popular Culture[edit]

The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) in Seattle, Washington.
  • The MADE (Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment) in Oakland, California.
  • Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, Australia.
  • Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Washington.
  • Ray & Pat Browne Library for Popular Culture Studies in Bowling Green, Ohio - Has media related to games such as movies based on game IP, rather than games themselves.

Computing[edit]

General computing museums often include game hardware, or early computer models that were sometimes used for gaming.

  • The National Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park, UK.
  • Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.
  • Living Computers: Museum + Labs in Seattle, Washington.
  • Nexon Computer Museum in Jeju, South Korea.

Other[edit]

  • The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan.[1]

Threats[edit]

Minor[edit]

Battery backed RAM[edit]

Many early game cartridges use RAM to store save data.[2] This requires a a battery to deliver power to the RAM at all times to avoid save game loss.[2] These batteries will inevitably run out of juice, loosing the save games contained on the cartridge, and potentially causing other problems should they fail in other ways.

Ventilation[edit]

Ensuring proper ventilation to an air cooled device, and keeping it clean of dust can extend it's operative life.[3][4]

Material degradation[edit]

Many computers and consoles use white ABS plastic with flame retardants that yellow over time.[5][6]

Major[edit]

Defective Design[edit]

Some consoles have inherent flaws in their designs that will eventually cause them to fail, such as the power supply used by the Amstrad GX4000 or the Red Ring of Death on the original Xbox 360.

As with any modern computer, many consoles and gaming hardware and software are likely to be susceptible to time issues, and may fail or encounter unexpected behavior once certain dates are reached.[7] Notably, many devices have software which will encounter issues on January 19, 2038.[7][8]

Displays[edit]

Some consoles with early built in displays, such as the Microvision or the Game Boy, have poorly made displays that rely on ample light to work, and either rot over time or become sunburnt and become unusable.[9][10]

Some display technologies, such as early OLED panels, are highly likely to burn in images over time, though this typically does not render the device unusual.[11][12]

CRT displays are no longer manufactured in mass quantities, leading to shortages of replacements for arcade machines that use them.[13] This is complicated by CRT technology having many desirable qualities for gaming not replicated in current display technologies.[14][15] Some early light gun games rely on CRT technology to operate.[16]

Arcade Batteries[edit]

Some Arcade games, such as some made by Sega or those using the Z80 based Capcom Kabuki chip, would intentionally destroy critical data should an included battery fail.[17][18]

Capacitor Plauge/Failure[edit]

Older capacitors may degrade out of spec, leak fluid, or otherwise become destructive with time, though this is highly dependent on capacitor chemistry, typically affecting small electrolytic capacitors the worst and on if the device has had proper storage conditions.[19][20]

Server shutdowns[edit]

Some games rely on server functions or always online DRM to run, resulting in an unplayable game once servers are decommissioned.[21] Obtaining legal access to game server software is much more difficult then it is to acquire legal access to the end user copy of the game.[22]

MMO games are particularly difficult to archive.[23]

As software and games move to exclusively be distributed over the internet, preservation becomes trickier due to a lack of physical media.[24][25]

Deliberate removal[edit]

Sometimes a game developer will decide to pull digital games from a storefront, making downloading new copies impossible, even if the store still operates.[26][27]

Data loss[edit]

Often source code, development materials, and the final game product itself are note properly preserved by developers or publishers.[28] Bit rot, or degradation of game media, can also cause information to become lost if no backups exit.[29]

Preservation threat gallery[edit]

Solutions[edit]

There are two primary approaches to video game preservation, maintaining the physical objects themselves, and maintaining the digital contents of games.[30] Both of these apraches require different skillsets, and an individualized approach to specific items.[30]

There have been a number of successful attempts to mend copyright law to make preservation of gaming easier without harming the ongoing industry.[31]

References[edit]

  1. "Digital Collections" (in en). https://www.thehenryford.org/collections-and-research/digital-collections/search-results#advancedSearch=1&tab=artifact-results&s.0.in=keywords&s.0.for=Video%20games&years=0-0&perPage=10&pageNum=1&sortBy=relevance. 
  2. a b "Miscellaneous Attributes : Battery Backed RAM". https://www.mobygames.com/attribute/sheet/attributeId,175/p,22/. Retrieved 18 November 2020. 
  3. Techs, Armor (17 November 2020). "Built for Failure: The Unfortunate Truth about Consoles". https://www.armortechs.com/built-for-failure-the-unfortunate-truth-about-consoles. Retrieved 18 November 2020. 
  4. "Xbox Support". https://support.xbox.com/en-US/help/hardware-network/console/position-ventilate-console. Retrieved 18 November 2020. 
  5. "Plastic Cleanup Via Retrobrighting". 13 March 2020. https://hackaday.com/2020/03/13/plastic-cleanup-via-retrobrighting/. Retrieved 3 November 2020. 
  6. "This guy makes badly aged Apple computers sparkle again". 22 July 2016. https://www.cultofmac.com/439119/this-guy-makes-badly-aged-apple-computers-sparkle-again/. Retrieved 3 November 2020. 
  7. a b "Is the Year 2038 problem the new Y2K bug?" (in en). the Guardian. 17 December 2014. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/dec/17/is-the-year-2038-problem-the-new-y2k-bug. 
  8. Francisco, Neil McAllister in San. "Linux clockpocalypse in 2038 is looming and there's no 'serious plan'" (in en). www.theregister.com. https://www.theregister.com/2015/02/20/linux_year_2038_problem/. 
  9. "Milton Bradley Microvision". 19 February 2014. https://www.popculturemaven.com/games/milton-bradley-microvision/. Retrieved 3 November 2020. 
  10. "Repairing A Sunburned Game Boy Screen". 27 January 2018. https://hackaday.com/2018/01/26/repairing-a-sunburned-game-boy-screen/. Retrieved 3 November 2020. 
  11. Brookes, Tim. "OLED Screen Burn-In: How Worried Should You Be?". https://www.howtogeek.com/687180/oled-screen-burn-in-how-worried-should-you-be/. Retrieved 18 November 2020. 
  12. Muddle, Ty (17 September 2017). "Five Reasons the PlayStation Vita Might Suck" (in en). https://squishturtle.com/five-reasons-the-playstation-vita-might-suck-ebee0b73d639. Retrieved 18 November 2020. 
  13. "History of the CRT TV" (in en). https://home.bt.com/tech-gadgets/television/retro-tech-the-crt-tv-11363858003032. 
  14. Leadbetter, Richard (17 September 2019). "We played modern games on a CRT monitor - and the results are phenomenal" (in en). https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2019-modern-games-look-beautiful-on-crt-monitors. 
  15. "CRTs And The “Retro Look”". https://gametyrant.com/news/crts-and-the-retro-look. 
  16. Robertson, Adi (6 February 2018). "Inside the desperate fight to keep old TVs alive" (in en). https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/6/16973914/tvs-crt-restoration-led-gaming-vintage. 
  17. "Reverse Engineering Capcom’s Crypto CPU". 12 December 2014. https://hackaday.com/2014/12/12/reverse-engineering-capcoms-crypto-cpu/. Retrieved 3 November 2020. 
  18. Life, Nintendo (4 June 2016). "Ninterview: Preserving Gaming History With Arcade Collector ShouTime". https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2016/06/ninterview_preserving_gaming_history_with_arcade_collector_shoutime. Retrieved 3 November 2020. 
  19. "Ask Hackaday: Experiences With Capacitor Failure". 12 April 2019. https://hackaday.com/2019/04/12/ask-hackaday-experiences-with-capacitor-failure/. Retrieved 18 November 2020. 
  20. "Vaccinate yourself against CAPACITOR PLAGUE!". 8 January 2014. https://www.wirebiters.com/vaccinate-capacitor-plague/. Retrieved 18 November 2020. 
  21. Brown, Ryan (9 May 2016). "Why video game preservation matters and games like Battleborn are anti-consumer" (in en). https://www.mirror.co.uk/tech/importance-video-game-preservation-games-7932296. Retrieved 3 November 2020. 
  22. Orland, Kyle (29 October 2018). "Researchers can now legally restore “abandoned” online game servers" (in en-us). https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/10/researchers-can-now-legally-restore-abandoned-online-game-servers/. Retrieved 3 November 2020. 
  23. Robertson, Adi (24 February 2014). "EVE, offline: how do you archive a universe?" (in en). https://www.theverge.com/2014/2/24/5441866/eve-offline-how-do-you-archive-a-universe. Retrieved 4 November 2020. 
  24. "Current Game Preservation is Not Enough How They Got Game". https://web.stanford.edu/group/htgg/cgi-bin/drupal/?q=node/1211. Retrieved 3 November 2020. 
  25. "Nintendo Makes It Clear that Piracy Is the Only Way to Preserve Video Game History" (in en). https://www.vice.com/en/article/wjm5kw/nintendo-makes-it-clear-that-piracy-is-the-only-way-to-preserve-video-game-history. 
  26. "Demise of Silent Hills Proves Gaming Has a Preservation Crisis" (in en). https://www.pcmag.com/opinions/demise-of-silent-hills-proves-gaming-has-a-preservation-crisis. 
  27. "Saving 'P.T.'" (in en). https://www.vice.com/en/article/qkjppd/saving-pt. 
  28. "The Uncertain Future of Video Game History". 12 August 2019. https://egmnow.com/the-uncertain-future-of-video-game-history/. Retrieved 3 November 2020. 
  29. Wahba, Michael (9 November 2018). "The Bits and Bytes of Video Game Preservation" (in en). https://www.scholarlygamers.com/feature/2018/11/09/the-bits-and-bytes-of-video-game-preservation/. 
  30. a b "A Laboratory for Video Game Preservation" (in en). www.museumofplay.org. 11 October 2019. https://www.museumofplay.org/blog/2019/10/a-laboratory-for-video-game-preservation. 
  31. "Copyright Law Just Got Better for Video Game History" (in en). www.vice.com. https://www.vice.com/en/article/zm9az5/copyright-law-just-got-better-for-video-game-history. 

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