WACO, Texas (KWTX) –
Sponsored by Bell County Comic-Con, Bit Bar and Iconic Comics
Secure tickets to the incredible Bell County Comic-Con lineup August 5-6 at the Bell County Expo Center. Tickets here: https://www.bellcountycomiccon.com/
It’s 1958, scary season is in full swing, and physicist William Higinbotham is hard at work creating a new form of entertainment, a simple digital tennis game. What is widely considered to be the very first video game. 65 years later, I doubt Mr. Higinbotham could have predicted just how big gaming would become. In the last 65 years, almost 5 million games have been released, taking us to unimaginable worlds. Italian plumbers fight giant monkeys, squirrels with guns, race the fastest cars and battle the deepest eagles. Connect with characters on their journeys. Unforgettable adventures, each one made into a work of art. And art is worth preserving, right? Why are 87% of games released before 2010 just not commercially available? I’m Andrew Hamilton from Hardwired and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
According to a recent study by the Video Game History Foundation and the Software Preservation Network, a whopping 87% of games released before 2010 are simply not available through the regular channels. Only 13% of these games are still accessible, either through re-releases on active platforms or through the use of emulators. This means that most of gaming history is slowly being lost and that younger generations may not even have the opportunity to learn about so many great titles. Last month I talked about how gaming is one of the most unique mediums out there, and that it comes with its own set of problems. Early game development was a wild west frontier with loose contracts, companies thriving and then dying, and a never-ending drive to outperform the competition, resulting in some questionable designs. Titles released before 1990 have a re-release rate of just 3%, and you can bet they’re at the top of the list. Yes, Mario games have survived, but what about Glover 3D or Clay Fighter? Let’s take a look at games as new as the PS3 console, a console notoriously so difficult to develop that not even Sony fully understands it. Even the emulation isn’t exact for these things. how did we get here As a rule, media are maintained via the commercial market, for example films. Each new format brings with it re-releases of older films, the latest being 4K upscaled or restored films. Even if you can’t find a movie like Quest for Camelot, you can usually find it physically somewhere digitally. But the video game industry has done a pretty poor job of keeping its own story alive commercially. Publishers just don’t want to devote their resources to preserving what’s there when they’re constantly charging headlong into the future. Reselling games comes with its own baggage, but eventually those old copies wear out after being bought and played and bought and played.
So the history of video games is dying. What are we doing against it? Well, the Video Game History Foundation says the best we can do is think ahead, especially on the side of world governments, to work with game companies to provide an effective video game history preservation infrastructure. Also the extension and support of emulation tools by game manufacturers would be helpful. Yes, places like Limited Run Games re-release masterpieces like GEX, but those are few and far between. If the publishers don’t re-release these games, at least they can save them properly. So get online and check out the links to this article at KWTX.com/entertainment/hardwired to see what you can do to help preserve this important work of art. The developers put hundreds of thousands of hours of work into these games, let’s not forget that. And while we don’t forget things, don’t forget to subscribe to Hardwired on YouTube. Special thanks to this week’s sponsor, Bell County Comic-Con, taking place August 5th & 6th at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton. There will be loads of amazing guests in attendance and I’ll be leading the celebrity Q&A there. Link in the description. Until next time, I’m Andrew Hamilton
Here is information on how you can help preserve video game history:
Copyright 2023 KWTX. All rights reserved.