Henry Lowood's Game-Face

Henry Lowood talks to German videogame magazine Game-Face about game preservation, game art, and the How They Got Game project at Stanford University. [mental note: Wow, I was able to use the word "game" five times in the same sentence...]

Here's an excerpt:

GameFace: Which basic difficulty do you face, when archiving games?

Henry Lowood: There are several difficulties we face. Some have to do with preservation and some have to do with access. Let's start with access actually. These consoles for the most part still work. The games still work. We don't have the problem, yet, with most of these games and media that they are not operable anymore. But still we have difficulties. For example, the Cabrinety Collection is housed in the Department of Special Collections, which is a traditional rare books and manuscript department in a library. So someone goes to the service desk in that department and asks for access to a game from 1978 that plays on an Atari 2600, which is of course in storage. It's non-trivial to get the equipment, to set it up, to make sure all of the controllers and all of the power cables are there and they are set up properly by the person in the department. That currently is a real problem with a collection like this, simply providing access to it. Now as we look longer-term, we look into the future of the media on which these games reside, the ROMs to some extend, certainly floppy-discs, cassette-tapes - all of these media on which games have been put and distributed will at some point in the future no longer be viable. The information on them will no longer be readable, the medium will become corrupt. So, the big challenge for the future will be to figure out how we are going to provide access to the information that's on these media that will no longer be available to us.

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