Chris Burke is... The Editor
Chris wants to preserve the legacy of videogames
Bring up the lights, prepare to be dazzled by camera flashes and the bring up the music as, to the strains of ‘Hooray For Hollywood’, I bring you this month’s column from La La Land! I’m in California for the big Borderlands 3 reveal event at a secret location in Los Angeles that’s allowed OXM hands-on gameplay opportunities and a chance to chat with the lovely Gearbox team about its latest looter-shooter.
But more on that elsewhere this month. Being a Brit in Los Angeles always gives me huge Los Santos vibes, like the whole sunshine-drenched place is a hyper-real location in a videogame; every street name is etched into my pop-culture loving brain, and mixed in with the gaudy tackiness of the gift shop-lined Hollywood Boulevard are bar and store names that feel like they were made up by the Housers, like redneck-themed bar The Rusty Mullet.
Of course Hollywood Boulevard is also home to the famous sidewalk-stars celebrating the great and good of the entertainment industry. In the ’50s, the Hollywood Chamber Of Commerce came up with the idea to “maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world”, that resulted in the immortalising of key players in brass, black and coral paving slabs along the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Stepping out across these fascinating monuments, it strikes me that the games industry as yet has no such legacy. While games have been around for a lot less time than films, we are surely reaching a point now where not only are newer games increasingly being rightly recognised as a valid and valuable art form, but as generations grow old with their nostalgia for retro games, we’re nonetheless in danger of actually forgetting the contributions of the artists and developers who created such great games over the years.
Back at OXM Towers, the team has been considering an all-digital future, what with the release of a disc-less Xbox One S; and one of our concerns is not the loss of discs for their own sake, but rather the preservation of our collections of old games. It’s a young industry, but its legacy should not be disposable.
So what should be done to preserve the legacy of videogames? I’d love to see some filthy-rich benefactor give all their money to the establishment of a Museum Of Gaming, to preserve every single game ever made. Or if not every game, perhaps then a gaming equivalent of the Hollywood Chamber Of Commerce (perhaps based at Stanford University, to recognise the boffins that came up with Pong) could regularly vote on their inclusion. We could then look at having our own monuments. Instead of sidewalk stars, we could have pavement Pac-Men, festooned with the names of Seamus Blackley, the Housers, Ed Boon, Yu Suzuki, the guys who invented roguelikes; you get the idea. Like the movie stars’ hand and footprints at Hollywood’s Chinese Theater, we could have famous developers’ thumbprints preserved in asphalt, perhaps outside the first video arcade to open in Bournemouth? OK, so maybe not that. But it has to be worth tabling the debate over the preservation of gaming history ASAP. In this age of free-to-play, leased games and digital downloads that die with a console generation, where will we go for our game nostalgia when we’re all sitting round the old folks’ home boasting about how we once beat Dark Souls? Keeping discs is only as good as having a working console that will still play them. I have piles of Xbox discs. Will they end up in the attic, next to the boxes of ZX Spectrum cassettes that I can’t bear to part with, but can’t use either? Or, are we headed for a digital future so bright that Microsoft ends up preserving everything that ever appeared on Xbox in a permanent game library on a cloud beamed into space, that we can play any time we want on our Microsoft X-implants we’ve had plugged into our cerebral cortexes? God, I hope so. Follow us @oxm on Twitter.
“It’s a young industry, but its legacy should not be disposable”