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Games Entertainment

UK Opens National Video Game Archive 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the grandaddy-pac-man dept.
BBC News reports that the UK is acknowledging video games as a "key component of modern culture" by opening the National Videogame Archive inside the National Media Museum. "'The National Videogame Archive is an important resource for preserving elements of our national cultural heritage,' said Dr Newman. 'It's not just about cartridges and consoles, it's also about video game culture, the ways in which people actually play them. Unlike film and music, it's very difficult to walk into a retail store and walk out with a bunch of games from the 1970's,' said Dr Newman. He feels that games should be archived in the same way that music, books and film are preserved, as we often use them as markers in our culture and history." There's a similar archive at the University of Texas at Austin. What games would you put on display?
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UK Opens National Video Game Archive

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  • by Majik Sheff (930627) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @02:57AM (#25565951) Journal

    So how do we archive all of the fantastic hardware that the likes of Sega and Atari produced? What about pinball games and crane sandboxes? What about the machines that would cast a souvenir for you out of plastic on the spot? There is a lot of gaming history that is sadly endangered.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So how do we archive all of the fantastic hardware that the likes of Sega and Atari produced? What about pinball games and crane sandboxes? What about the machines that would cast a souvenir for you out of plastic on the spot? There is a lot of gaming history that is sadly endangered.

      Coin-op hardware-wise, there's the annual California Extreme [caextreme.org] event in San Jose. There's also a good vintage console selection (as well as computer selection) at Vintage Computer Fest [vintage.org], which has both an East Coast and a West C

      • by Gizzmonic (412910)

        The Houston Area Arcade Owners Group Expo [arcadecenter.com] is next weekend. It's very similar to the shows you described.

      • by hawk (1151)

        Here in Las Vegas, we have pinball museum. I think it's 80 games in the place at any given time, out of their inventory; they're rotated. These go from all the way back to brand new games.

        There are a couple of 80's video games, too.

        It's self supporting (an awful lot of quarters :), wit a bit of excess that gets donated elsewhere.

        It's in the strip mall at the NW corner of Pecos & Tropicana if you're in town, next to the theater.

  • "What games would you put on display? "

    Getting First post on Slashdot. :)

  • What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Azuma Hazuki (955769) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @03:13AM (#25566001)
    No "Mega Man 2" tag yet? =P
  • Pretty much every variant of every game made in the past two decades is neatly archived on various sites. They are easy to find, you just have to look.

    What games would you put on display?

    Why not put all of them in storage, and have a computer to browse it displaying the most popular ones [metacritic.com] by default? Let people play them. Record their games and put up some good past recordings on a few big screens for others to see.

    • by TheLink (130905)
      Some of them are corrupted though.

      For example all the online copies of the 1982 Apple II game Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves that I can find are corrupted - you can play it, but not all of the original characters are present.
      • by Kleen13 (1006327)
        I have fond memories of Pitfall on an Apple 2E (PR#6, Baby!)
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by electrictroy (912290)

          The best version of Pitfall II was on the Atari 5200. The programmer directly ported the original VCS/2600 version to the 5200, and discovered he had some spare time to kill, so he created a whole other game (think Pitfall III) that happens immediately after you beat the first game.

          The second game can only be described as "extremely difficult". I couldn't get past the first screen due to the fact all the crabs run about four times faster! One of these days I'll get-around to beating it.

          Thanks to emulatio

        • I have fond memories of Pitfall on an Apple 2E (PR#6, Baby!)

          Oh yes, the old disk access command. Apple IIe FTW.

          On our school computers, the command for gaming was CATALOG S2 D2 E17 - that gave you Moon Buggy, Horse Race, Pitfall and one other game I'm forgetting. (I loved that old Corvus network. 1 Mbps over twisted-pair when the Ethernet world was still in garden hose.)

    • by Nursie (632944)

      What you describe kinda exists...

      We have ROMNation and home of the underdogs.

      Are they legal? Doubtful. Are they useful when you want to play that game you were addicted to when you were 10? Hell yes.

      I luv my megadrive emus.

    • Roms, yes, but not original packaging, manuals, extras, and media.
    • I hope they they have some good coverage of Archimedes and BBC Micro games, what with them being British platforms.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 30, 2008 @03:17AM (#25566027)

    Well archiving ROMS and disk images for emulation would be all fine and dandy if COPYRIGHT DIDN'T STILL EXIST on most of it.

    We had this discussion in regards to the Digital Dark ages not so long ago. Copyright needs a massive overhaul in order to preserve most of this gaming history, and bring it out of it's current legal grey area. ..otherwise all these obscure Commodore 64 tape games will never see the light of day.

  • DRM? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    What about games crippled with DRM? Will they "die" ?

    • Short answer yes with an "if", long answer no with a "but".

    • by Moryath (553296)

      You could ask the Once-ler... I hear he knows a thing or two about stuff becoming extinct because people don't take care of it properly [cornell.edu].

      Yes, I realize I'm comparing computer systems to real-world ecology, but hey... it's actually not that different. Think of changing standards of common media storage, DRM, and the (unfortunately short) shelf-life of most storage components as your particular species' (software package) "home environment" and think about it.

  • what would I archive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ozbon (99708) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @03:25AM (#25566063) Homepage

    Manic Miner / Jet Set Willy : Disturbingly Addictive
    Elite : 3D in 32Kb
    Sabre Wulf : First (I think) forced-perspective 3d
    Daley Thomson's Decathlon - for single-handedly killing more Z and X keys than anything else on the market. Ever.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      SabreWulf was plain 2d as far as I remember. You're thinking of Ultimate's Knightlore [wikipedia.org] which was the first 3d isometric game.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by malf-uk (456583)
        There were 3D isometric games before Knight Lore, such as Sandy White's Ant Attack [wikipedia.org], but Knight Lore's Filmation engine featured forced perspective.
      • by vidarh (309115)
        Wikipedia lists Knightlore as being published in 1984, which means Zaxxon beat it by 2 years...
        • by znark (77857)

          Wikipedia lists Knightlore as being published in 1984, which means Zaxxon beat it by 2 years...

          There's also Q*bert [wikipedia.org] - likewise from 1982 - as well as Congo Bongo [webmagic.com] and Sinbad Mystery [zock.com], which were both released in 1983.

          Knightlore might have been the first isometric 3D multiscreen action adventure game, though.

    • by Gordonjcp (186804)

      Daley Thomson's Decathlon - for single-handedly killing more Z and X keys than anything else on the market. Ever.
      ... and being my primary source of cash during high school. The "local" computer repair place was 120 miles away, took two weeks, and charged a fortune. I could replace the keyboard membrane for a fiver or the membrane and the aluminium top cover together for eight quid over lunch, and always had both in stock. Not especially cheap in 1988 money, but a quarter of the price of the computer sh

      • LOL, you must be nearly as old as me. It was for that reason that my brother was specifically banned from playing that game on my (no, not our) speccy. Second time I caught him doing it I shredded the tape.
        • by Spacejock (727523)
          My brother had a quickshot joystick for DTD. He'd stick a lump of blu-tack on the end, then shake the base to make the shaft wobble (ooer). It was much, much quicker than I could mash the keys, and he only broke two or three joysticks in his quest for better and better scores.
    • It belongs in a museum

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by PoiuyTerry (736125)
      Hmmm, Fighter Bomber for the Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. Why yes, I did write it, a long time ago.
      • I lost hours of my youth thanks to you! Great game, should go on there. Deatchase 3D I think was from the same stable and equally as worthy of preservation... Just like riding a speeder bike through the forest in ROTJ.. Well, at the time at least..
        • by Spacejock (727523)
          That was a 16k game, too. I played 3d deathchase a lot, what with my first speccy being a 16k model and me not actually having any other games to play on it.
      • I was an admirer of your work, albeit from afar as I was a BBC Micro and later Acorn Archimedes head. As a teen I would spend most of my money on all of the computer mags and I couldn't believe that you'd managed to do the solid 3D on an 8 bit.
    • haha. I did that to my Speccy too. Learnt to switch the keys after that.

      It's funny how many speccy games would be in my list, and I don't think it's just nostalgia. The restrictions of the hardware and that film companies hadn't caught on to licensing meant that people had to innovate with gameplay.

      I'd add 3d Monster Maze and also the Scrabble on the Speccy (which seemed to use some clever compression to squeeze as many words as they did into 48k).

    • by ledow (319597)

      "Daley Thomson's Decathlon - for single-handedly killing more Z and X keys than anything else on the market. Ever."

      I never killed the keyboard with DTD but I did destroy at least one Interface II (the ones that could take console-style "ROM cartridges" and boot games instantly... wow!), several IF2 joysticks and the edge-connector on the back of the Speccy twice. I think I also killed the power supply numerous times by pulling out the connector, though. For as long as I can remember it was held together b

    • by psychofox (92356)
      Sorry, this comment is rather pointless, which is unlike me, but.. Ozbon.. it's incredible. Those are actually the exact same games I would have chosen! Freaky.
  • ...is M.U.L.E. [wikipedia.org] This game was a true landmark.
  • Hrmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by acehole (174372) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @03:29AM (#25566073) Homepage

    Daikatana.

    Why? So future generations may know how exactly not to create a game.

  • I have no clever point to make. I just think it's a good idea.
    • by paniq (833972)
      Me too. But if they put these games into showcases, that would be sad.

      Okay, perhaps they can put some of these behind showcases, like all game adaptations of movies - ever.
      • by Kleen13 (1006327)
        I'd be a little sad if nobody knew what "Don't have time to play with myself." meant. I agree. I think everyone should know what CS or DOD is all about. Adminmod days were cool gaming days....
  • Elite (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sister bliss (1234142)
    Elite on the Commodore 64 .. that was f**ng awesome
  • by radimvice (762083) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @03:54AM (#25566187) Homepage

    He feels that games should be archived in the same way that music, books and film are preserved, as we often use them as markers in our culture and history.

    This only applies to the destructive elements of games (packaging, artwork, instruction manuals, etc), and the actual computer or console hardware the games are run on. However, the whole 'stick videogames in museums' mentality this projects reeks of reflects a much greater ignorance of the preservation of software in general. What we really need in order to 'preserve' video game culture is not some expensive museum space full of trite screenshots of software still under copyright that nobody is legally allowed to play themselves, but we need a relaxation of copyright and a strengthening of fair use so that old cultural artifacts that are no longer profitable and would otherwise be forgotten are defaulted to the public domain. Then the 'preservation' and archiving would happen on their own for free by people who still love the old games and enjoy taking part in the preservation of a culture they were a part of. Just look at projects like MAME and the massive ROM archives collections that are passed around the Internet underground and continue to exist despite all of the legal obstacles.

    • Where are my mod points when I need them.

      Good old Games [gog.com] is actually a sort of museum for games. For a entry fee of $6 to $10 per title you can re-experience some of the (PC) classics on current systems (running WinXP or Vista.
      Just having a digital copy of the software is sadly not enough, you need to be able to run it. DosBox helps a lot, and in some cases virtualization software can also help. But there are still quite some things very difficult like the games that used 3Dfx (or games that rely on an older

      • by tweak13 (1171627)

        But there are still quite some things very difficult like the games that used 3Dfx

        I thought that Glide wrappers were available from multiple projects, and several work quite well. I can't say personally since I haven't used one, but I have seen them being used on an older game and it seemed to work just fine.

    • by stranger_to_himself (1132241) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:47AM (#25566381) Journal

      What we really need in order to 'preserve' video game culture is not some expensive museum space full of trite screenshots of software still under copyright that nobody is legally allowed to play themselves, but we need a relaxation of copyright and a strengthening of fair use so that old cultural artifacts that are no longer profitable and would otherwise be forgotten are defaulted to the public domain.

      You're right about copyright etc but there's more to a museum than just displaying old stuff. The curators have an important job of putting everything in context, finding the really interesting stuff and giving it prominence, and providing the historical and cultural background behind each gaming milestone. And make it interesting for old gamers and people who aren't old gamers.

      So I would expect the museum to show me stuff I'd never think of looking for on my own, to talk about who made the games, who was playing them, where they were played etc, and to help my kids to understand more about how I grew up.

    • Do both (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pjt33 (739471) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @05:46AM (#25566677)

      Allowing use of abandonware would certainly keep the good games alive, but I think you're missing the point of an archive: to make as complete a collection as possible, so that the non-popular stuff is preserved, and to make it available to researchers. The two complement each other, and shouldn't be treated as alternatives.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Agreed. It is information you want to save. The obstacles are legal, not material.
    • by Belial6 (794905)
      Your description brought up an image of Fahrenheit 451. With a dedicated group of "criminals" passing around the heritage of a media through an underground network, while the official powers that be hunt them down. When the official powers that be find a stash, the burn it to the ground.
  • Back to the Future 2 & 3 for NES. Best game ever.

  • by unlametheweak (1102159) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:30AM (#25566321)

    He feels that games should be archived in the same way that music, books and film are preserved

    Let's hope he changes his mind. Today's music, books and film are archived in proprietary formats, often requiring proprietary for-profit DRM services and software to access, legal (copyright) restrictions on making backup copies; and in the case of movies and TV shows the original films are often changed to suit the fad of the current day while the original copies sit literally rotting in storage. Books are often stolen or vandalized in libraries (including more restrictive academic libraries), and many are just banned and even burned because of PTA (think-of-the-children) activism.

    Once knowledge becomes commercialized and given moral value then archivism will deal more with political science rather than library science.

    • by eiapoce (1049910)

      Today's music, books and film are archived in proprietary formats

      A book in DRM? Do they give you a barcode reader to decrypt the pages? Or maybe special glasses? :)

  • Tag? (Score:5, Funny)

    by SpooForBrains (771537) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:49AM (#25566391)

    Which gibbering simpleton tagged this UK-based story yourtaxDOLLARSatwork?

    • by scapaman (827445)

      Which gibbering simpleton tagged this UK-based story yourtaxDOLLARSatwork?

      the way the £ is going it might yet be true

    • by dkf (304284)

      Which gibbering simpleton tagged this UK-based story yourtaxDOLLARSatwork?

      Correct tag is "yourtaxPOONDSatwork".

  • It seems that they will soon be asking for donations - just when I was looking to get rid of my old consoles and computers (Atari 2600, speccy, Master System, NES, Game Gear, some Binatone thing from the early/mid 70's, etc.)

    Perfect timing! unless someone wants to buy them from me ;-)

  • Raid over Moscow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zarhan (415465) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @05:45AM (#25566669)

    A true product of cold war era.

    Especially as a Finn I find it significant, for reasons highlighted in the wiki article [wikipedia.org]. It was pretty funny to follow from sidelines...Talking heads on TV and all that about how computer games might affect our kids, relation to the USSR and so on. Of course we have since heard that same stuff again over GTA and similar games, but at least back then it was related to foreign politics instead of scoring random points for next election.

  • by aplusjimages (939458) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @07:00AM (#25567039) Journal
    I'd like to see how they capture all the bigotry and name calling on Xbox Live. Hopefully they have some recordings of actually taunts while playing Halo 3 online with some 12 year old kid.

    Will they also have a wax model of a 12 year old kid with cheetohs all over his fingers and lips?
  • UK company: Banjo-Kazooie for the Nintendo 64. Before they got bought out by Microsoft. R.I.P.
  • another world, flashback

    fallout 2

    final fantasy 7

  • >>>What games would you put on display?

    ALL of them as playable ROMs at various PCs setup around the museum. As for the actual displays, I would get 1 of every console ever made, and display it in 5-year "segments" such as:

    1970-1975 Odyssey, Fairchild Channel F, Pong and other dedicated standalones
    1976-1980 Odyssey 2, Atari VCS/2600, Intellivision
    1981-1985 Atari 5200, Colecovision, Famicom, NES
    1986-1990 Atari 7800, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis
    1991-1995 Super Nintendo, Atari Jaguar, Amiga CDTV
    19

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      A travesty, sir, that the Neo Geo is not listed among those.

      It would be cool if they hit up places like RetroZone [retrousb.com] (Full disclosure: run by a friend of an acquaintance) for added retro kick.

      It would be cool to see those old NES time-based coin-op machines, too... the ones with a bunch of games loaded up, and every quarter equaled a few minutes of playtime. It turned non-arcade games into arcade games instantly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vidarh (309115)
      In fact, in many (most?) countries in western Europe at least, home computers massively dominated for most of the 80's and consoles were a niche. Most kids I knew considered consoles as something for people that couldn't afford a full fledged computer until at least the Super Nintendo, which was the first one I remember people talking about without being embarrassed for not getting something better.

      (At least part of this I think came from parents delusion that if they bought a home computer it'd get used

      • by theaveng (1243528)

        Computers dominated? I disagree. The most popular computer ever made only sold 30 million (C=64).

        In comparison, during the same 1982-92 timeframe the NES/Famicom sold twice as much. People were buying 2 NESes for every 1 C64 sold.

        Which makes sense because a console only requires a $200 investment, whereas a computer requires buying external peripherals like tape drives, disk drives, joysticks, ..., all of which increase the computer's price to $500. Customers naturally gravitate towards the cheaper pro

        • by pjt33 (739471)

          People were buying 2 NESes for every 1 C64 sold.

          You can prove anything you want with selective use of statistics, and that's very selective. How many brands of console were there in the 80s vs brands of computer? For the former, I can think of two or three: for the latter, I can come up with a dozen off the top of my head (Apple, Commodore, Atari, Amiga, Tandy, Dragon, Spectrum, Amstrad, IBM, Sinclair QL, Acorn, BBC).

          But to get some actual stats into the picture, see the UK's Competition Commission's 1995 report on the market for video games [competitio...ion.org.uk]. It seems th

          • by theaveng (1243528)

            As you said, that's only the UK, not worldwide. In the 1980s U.S. consoles were certainly more-popular than computers. Here's a quick rundown of consoles during the 1980s, along with worldwide stats:

            Atari 2600 - 30 million sold
            Atari 5200 - 5 million
            Atari 7800 - 8 million
            Intellivision - 3 million
            Colecovision - 6 million
            NES - 60 million
            SMS - 13 million

            That's a total console sale between 1979 to 1989 of 125 million units. Now if you can demonstrate during that same timeperiod that home-gaming

            • by pjt33 (739471)

              Hang on. The post to which you originally replied was explicitly talking about Europe, and made the point that Europe and the US differed in this regard.

              • by theaveng (1243528)

                I doubt it. Consoles outsold gaming computers by about 3-to-1 (estimated), and it's doubtful Europe was any different in that respect than America. Otherwise the numbers would be approximately 1-to-1 worldwide.

  • SCUMM Archives (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @08:13AM (#25567373)
    The Lucasarts point and click adventure games have a special place in my heart. Maniac Mansion, Zack McKraken and the Alien Mindbenders, Indiana Johnes and the Fate of Atlantis, Sam and Max Hit the Road... all classics near and dear to my early gamer career!
    • by Spacejock (727523)
      Ditto. The Sam & Max talkie version was far and away my favourite, although my wife and I played Loom and Zak on the Atari ST and enjoyed them both immensely. Thank goodness for Scumm, eh?
  • by The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @08:38AM (#25567519)

    I want to see one hallway that starts with "Adventure," leads on to an Infocom retrospective, then "Mystery House," the Sierra library, and so forth. Adventure gaming is a very distinct subset of the gaming canon that relies on narrative and immersion rather than action and graphics. Leaving it out would be like going to a museum that didn't bother exhibiting paintings because they were just 2D.

    • by lennier (44736)

      Are you aware of Jason Scott's GET LAMP [getlamp.com] project?

      It's a documentary about adventure games interviewing all the leading lights of the industry. Scott Adams, the Infocom Implementors, etc. He's in the final editing stage I believe.

  • For all you Apple // fans.

    http://www.virtualapple.org/ [virtualapple.org]

    Pretty solid collection too, plus you can play online or download for your own archiving.
  • Duke Nukem Forever. It'd be pretty easy to display. Just stick an empty box under a sheet with a big question mark embroidered on it.

What this country needs is a good five cent microcomputer.

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