A long time ago, when Hollywood was young, movies were treated as disposable. Studios did not have a plan in place to save the films they produced, nor the storage to do so, so they just didn’t. Because of this, a good chunk of motion pictures from the silent era are lost forever. Nowadays there are organizations dedicated to preserving movies and television shows so our current history isn’t forgotten…but what about video games?
The way games are treated today is not unlike those more “ignorant” times for film. Some of them require a connection to a server that will cease to exist in the future. Some contain extra DLC content that will be hard to track down 20 years from now, let alone 100. Some titles are only sold digitally, with no physical copies anywhere. They are created to be disposable in the most literal sense: one day, they’ll simply vanish through being deleted.
Gaming historian Frank Cifaldi aims to change that. Together with a board of founders he’s launched the Video Game History Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving as much of game history as possible. What kind of materials will they preserve? Anything rare they can get their hands on. Examples are listed on their website:
High-resolution, lossless scans of game packaging and documentation.
Playable binary code that has been verified as clean and untainted.
Marketing and PR material, including press kits, “preview” screenshots of games, trailers, vintage slides, and advertisements.
Periodicals, newsletters, and other printed resources.
Internal documentation, notes, source code and assets, and related materials from game creators and publishers that offer behind-the-scenes insight into how games were made and sold.
Digitized video, including sales videos that were never before available to the public.
Items the Foundation considers the most important are game data stored on media that won’t last (CD-Rs, floppy disks, prototype EEPROM chips). They’re also looking for “rare materials that are difficult to obtain or, in many cases, one-of-a-kind.” If you have something you’d like to donate to the Foundation, or you just want to support it any way you can, visit their website or subscribe to their Patreon campaign.