“That should be in a museum!” This is how we imagine Shuntaro Furukawa, fedora on his head in the pouring rain, while the marauders parade away the roms of the SNES games. Seriously, the discussion that emerged on the consideration of the Video Game History Foundation that sees Nintendo “destructive to the history of video games” and the subsequent response of the ex-director of the Videoludico Archive of Bologna suggest that perhaps it has not been centered precisely the problem of preservation of video games. Or rather, the difference between preservation and availability / accessibility is highlighted but the point is that perhaps this difference shouldn’t matter much in a medium of this type. How much sense would it make to keep under lock and key products built specifically to be enjoyed by a mass of people, actively preventing their use or forcing it to a different modality from that originally conceived?
We are not saying that Nintendo is wrong in asserting its rights: it has every reason to strongly reaffirm its absolute control over the intellectual properties that belong to it, but the distinction between preservation and accessibility which was also carried out to defend the work of the Kyoto house (which is preparing to close the WiiU and Nintendo 3DS eShops, as well as having demonstrated a somewhat “protectionist” approach, to put it mildly, on old ROMs and software ) presents some problematic aspects. Not only is the video game made to be enjoyed by a large number of people, but its very substance would favor large-scale distribution, even after years and without fear of loss in terms of the quality of the experience.
The binary code can be stored, reproduced and distributed practically indefinitely and there is no reason to prevent its distribution, moreover it only makes sense if it is actually used, not representing a work of art in the strictest sense of the term.
Already at the beginning of the twentieth century, Walter Benjamin advocated a democratization of art in the era of its technical reproducibility, but here we go much further: it is not so much a question of debating the supposed auratic value of a work that has been used exclusively hic et nunc, because the very essence of the video game – whose correspondence to the work of art in general is still to be discussed – is its being used by a large number of users and the fact of preventing its distribution, where there are no actual technical impediments or impairment of the quality of the work, it seems almost unnatural. One of the fascinating aspects of the video game is its very being technically reproducible indefinitely, especially on digital media, without practically losing its value, which makes simple preservation an end in itself, separated from accessibility to the public, a sort of forcing.
This is not to say that you should switch to one liberalization total amount of “ancient” software by automatically imposing abandonware status after a certain amount of years (although it would not be a bad idea), but an effort, by industry or its major players, to remove as much as possible would be desirable any barrier to access the historical archives of video games, including through subscription services or the possibility of purchasing the titles through some channel capable of collecting them. Given their technical nature and the means available to use them (also taking into account the FPGA emulation, for purists), it would make no sense to keep them closed in databases or continue to make them usable only through difficult and expensive peregrinations between markets. secondary, considering how retrogaming is reaching absolutely crazy prices, with the increase in demand.
Parliamone is a daily opinion column that offers a starting point for discussion around the news of the day, a small editorial written by a member of the editorial team but which is not necessarily representative of the Multiplayer.it editorial line.