WHEN ARE WE GOING TO TAKE THE LONG-TERM PRESERVATION OF OUR MEDIUM SERIOUSLY?
There’s got to be a better way beyond buying the same games over and over again
This December, Sony will throw its hat into the ring of retro, quarter-sized console reproductions with the PlayStation Classic. As excited as I am to get my similarly tiny mitts on it, I can’t help but look far beyond this Christmas and think about the long-term conservation of games.
By their experiential nature, and due to the onward march of tech, games are difficult to preserve, though that doesn’t stop not-for-profits such as The Video Game History Foundation attempting the task. Founder Frank Cifaldi cites the example of early film preservation (or rather lack thereof, as so much released before the 1950s is now lost) as the impetus behind the foundation’s mission statement. While much of this group’s current work covers earlier videogame history, more needs to be done by a number of parties in order to facilitate the preservation of titles released here and now.
It’s not a dystopian future for games: between remakes, remasters, PS2 classics on PS4 and also those available for download via PS Now there’s a number of ways to enjoy old favourites regardless of the tech you have to hand. Unfortunately, the current approach leaves massive blind spots in PlayStation’s library… and no, I’m not going to use this opportunity to bang on about my Shadow Hearts full remake pipe dream – that’s what the podcast is for.
I’m not one to turn my nose up at any future consoles-ofgaming-past-reproductions, but it would be wrongheaded to leave the responsibility of preserving PlayStation media solely at Sony’s door. In the face of old tech’s fragility (and the pulling of repair support for elderly consoles), a reproduction model benefitting from today’s parts seems logical, but the lack of integration with modern conveniences such as PSN is a missed trick.
Much as I appreciate having the option to re-experience games, buying the same ones over and over makes me feel the human equivalent of a disc read error. The assertion that backwards compatibility isn’t wanted hits the ear as pleasantly as the dreaded grinding of hardware failure.