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Preserving classic video games

From the Next Web…

The Com­put­er­spiele­mu­se­um (Muse­um of Video Games) in Berlin hosts one of the largest col­lec­tions of arte­facts about the his­to­ry of gam­ing world­wide. 30,000 video games and over 300 con­soles have been col­lect­ed since the muse­um opened its doors in 1997, the first of its kind. Since then the muse­um’s cura­tor Andreas Lange has had to watch the col­lec­tion slow­ly degrade to worth­less­ness.

Unlike pre­serv­ing a can­vas, a sculp­ture or a book, keep­ing soft­ware alive means deal­ing with a much more ephemer­al medi­um. Mag­net­ic dri­ves fail quick­ly, and the data car­ri­ers that hold the infor­ma­tion we’d like to pre­serve begin to demag­ne­tize about ten years into their exis­tence. Once they’re demag­ne­tized, the data is gone and lost. It’s a tricky busi­ness that insti­tu­tions like the Com­put­er­spiele­mu­se­um have to deal with. A book may be attacked by mould over time that leaves a few pages illeg­i­ble, but most of its con­tent will remain. In the dig­i­tal world, only a few bits lost through demag­ne­ti­za­tion could ren­der the source whol­ly unin­ter­pretable.

If you grew up on classic Atari and Nintendo games, the full article is worth a read, which explores the conflicting interests of gamers and game companies.


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