Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Look Over There

Costik made it perfectly clear that discussing the Rockstar v. LA case would be irritating. So I was forced to jettison several hundred words that, honestly, were irritating.

It would really help
if I had an actual topic list for this blog. Maybe I'll get around to that. Sometime when I'm not being worked to death in a QA department. Every day we take the canary into the playtesting mines and sew hundreds of soccerball bugs, harvesting glitches like plucking saffron. Or something. Most likely when the next Round Table kicks off.

You really should go over and check out some abandonware sites. I suggest a point-and-click adventure chockful of juvenile sexual innuendo. Those games really come into their own with age. Open one up, but let it breathe a bit.

There really are some gems there, not just abandonware, but freeware. If I were the type to scoff at Electronic Arts (and sometimes I am) and grow a mohawk (which I can't physically do) and create a counterculture movement dedicated to punk gaming (paming? gunk?), then I'd turn up my nose and say, "See this shit here? This is the real indie shit, the greasy underbelly of gaming, one person or a few people cobbling stuff together in their basement from blood and sourceforge. These people think games are more fun on vinyl. Because they are."

Looking back over the forgotten games of yesteryear . . . I'm struck with the same kind of overwhelming something-ness I get when I root through a used bookstore and stare in wonder at the massive detritus littering the science-fiction section. Lots of passable stuff that because of the fickleness of the market or lack of budget or delay just never took off. Maybe a few really great games that were overlooked due to the vagaries of fate. A whole plethora of garbage, though, that's for sure.

So it goes.

If you look long upon the vast sea of forgotten/never-known games, you might perchance wonder at who will attempt to preserve this legacy for the future?

Libraries have begun to take an interest in games (beyond the usual dingy rack filled with falcon 2.0 and Jazz Jackrabbit) to reasonable success, even though they focus on modern fare. Support from them is unsurprising, really -- when I worked for the UGA Library system I saw nothing but respect for the preservation of information, no matter what the form or content. An admirable trait that I feel has not always been transmitted well through greater culture. I'm certain their inability to keep large video game collections is a result of their meager budgets (the reason for keeping funding low is, I suppose, that there is no money in them).

They also face the problem that they simply can't stock the hardware necessary to run a large back catalog of software. This seems an even trickier prospect than converting wax cylinder music into a digital format.

There also exist vast private collections, some enshrined, others well-played. But those materials are rarely available for public use. Sometimes not for any use at all, so as not to affect the resale value. A practice which has always been both understandable and insane -- like buying an authentic Hendrix ax without ever playing it. Why would you? Why wouldn't you?

Perhaps someday soon a posterity-minded game geek will donate an extensive collection to the Smithsonian Institution.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I had no idea you were working in the QA mines! My sympathy goes out to you. I don't think there's anywhere else in the games industry with worse overall quality of living. :(