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Library of Congress Considers Archiving Games 79

Posted by Zonk
from the four-score-and-twenty-metroids-ago dept.
GamePolitics reports on talks at the U.S. Library of Congress concerning archiving our digital cultural heritage, including games. From the article: "The initiative is called 'Preserving Creative America,' and plans to compile (with industry help) a list of the commercial digital content most at risk of loss or degradation. The initiative will also develop ideas for preservation, business models to help maintain archives, and promote discussions between the archives and commercial content producers so that the archives are kept up to date. CM: Hopefully the Library of Congress will consider that many PC games were rushed to market before they were ready. Critical software patches should be included in the archive. That's right Sierra, I'm talking about you."
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Library of Congress Considers Archiving Games

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  • copy protection (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @11:56AM (#15255009)
    Will the LoC also be archiving the NoCD cracks that allow these games to be played without the original media, too?
  • Interesting thing, they often run only on systems (Windows) that are closed and you have to buy a license for. And if the system is too old, I don't know if you could even buy it. This suddenly sticks out more than usual, when it comes to archiving historical documents for the good of the general public.
    • Hell how about the games that came on a bootable disk with custom boot sectors and all sorts of nastiness to prevent them from being easily copied.

      Of course, now they have the ultimate solution to that, good luck even finding a drive to read them :)

      I shudder to think how many games are all but gone just for having been stored on old floppies that were hard to copy and have since degraded.

      I actually talked with an old apple 2 game developer once. He described how he used the ability to control the stepper mo
    • This could actually benefit from things like Nintendo's loss of rights to the NES hardware that basically made the unathorized "clone" systems legal. If consoles open up or are legally replaceable with a clone after a generation or so, the games won't be useless anymore. (IANAL and am not closely familiar with what happened in the NES' case, maybe someone could reply with more info.)
  • by eln (21727) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @11:56AM (#15255016) Homepage
    This is a great idea, but in order to be worth anything, they would need to store the hardware and/or hardware emulators to play these games. A copy of, say, Super Mario Brothers is useless without an NES or NES emulator.
    • Emulators will likely be preserved by the 'net at large, just as no-CD checks will also likely be preserved. Copyrighted media, on the other hand, can be hard to get one's hands on.
      • And even if not, I imagine if we haven't descended into a new dark age by then, in one hundred years we'd have the capability to reverse engineer the play device from a decent collection of data cartridges, especially if we had partial records (as we almost certainly would) of what the end product ought to look like. And any copy protection would be trivial in any case. After all, most game CP is meant to foil the average consumer, almost none are aimed for long-term encryption facing a concentrated effor
        • What you say is true. But that still means it will take lots of effort writing emulators, bypassing copying restrictions, etc. It's far better making sure today people won't have to do all that tomorrow.

          Which means preserving the emulators (and cracks) we have now, and actually encouraging people to write emulators too. Fortunately, that sort of thing has mostly taken care of itself up until now, but what about the coming generation of consoles, for example?

    • I don't think ZSNES is going anywhere anytime soon. It'll be kept updated.
    • Well if you can storing ROMs, why couldn't you store emulators as easily?
  • Ahem (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @12:00PM (#15255046)
    Torrent please.
    • More importantly, how big is the file that's downloaded? And please provide your answer in the standard unit of measure (LoCs).
    • by Alsee (515537)
      Let me guess... you work at the Library of Congress and that was an official request?

      -
  • They've been dead since about 99. I don't think they care any more. ;)
    • They've been dead since about 99. I don't think they care any more. ;)

      You think wrong. Sierra might be dead, but copyright holders still exist and sometimes they do care.

      Here's an example: there was a great space trading game called Elite, created in 1984 by David Braben. It was such a success that it was ported to many platforms of the time, many sequels were made, and Elite has become a cult game many still play. It's such a good game in fact that many people tried to clone it. However, one of the clones'
    • What about Half-Life?

      Well yeah, they've certainly been dead inside since about then anyways.
  • Too good to be true? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @12:02PM (#15255063)
    I mean, it looks nice on paper and at first, but ... why do I suddenly have a feeling like it's targeted at so called "abandonware" and those who enjoy it?

    Abandonware sites often claim they just do it "so those games don't go into extinction". With this reason gone, there's no reason anymore for game companies to shoot with big shells their way without getting bad rep. Because, they're no longer the "guardians of game culture", and game studios that want to shut them down are dirty, greedy corps that would rather see a game get forgotten before allowing it to exist for free.

    With this, abandonware sites are just pirates sites to be shut down soon. So start leeching now, as long as it still works!
    • by vertinox (846076) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @12:16PM (#15255186)
      Abandonware sites often claim they just do it "so those games don't go into extinction". With this reason gone, there's no reason anymore for game companies to shoot with big shells their way without getting bad rep.

      I think the point of Abandonware sites (like the-underdogs.org) is that they only host games that aren't being sold or have anyone to complain about them releasing them.

      Technically, you can't sue someone over a copyright you don't own.

      So game companies can't just sue someone they don't own the rights to whether they like it or not. If they can aquire the rights later down the road... Then yes they can sue.

      I don't think this will take any steam out of the abandonware's argument.
    • I agree. I make sure I keep ahold of all the games I like so that I will never loose them or misplace them. Mainly so that in the future, when I have a sudden craving to play these games, I can just grab the game and play. I'd say, start looking for those torrents people. Start backing up everything you want.
    • Abandonware sites often claim they just do it "so those games don't go into extinction". With this reason gone, there's no reason anymore for game companies to shoot with big shells their way without getting bad rep.

      What good is a game no one can play? What good is a law designed to encourage producers to produce that forever makes a game unavailable to everyone? Copyrights should expire the day that a company stops selling the copyrighted material at a reasonable market price. Otherwise they are just a

    • With this, abandonware sites are just pirates sites to be shut down soon.
      Abandonware sites *are* pirate sites - period. The excuse of 'preventing the game from going extinct' is their version of 'well, the door was unlocked anyhow|she was dressed like she was asking for it'.
      • oh fuck off
      • The real "pirates" are the greedy assholes that want to lock away our cultural heritage to preserve some so-called "right" to profit that they aren't even using anyway!
      • Yes, they are, by legal standards, pirate sites. The question is, though, whether they are in the wrong or whether the law is. The first step to dictatorship is when the citizens of a country don't question the laws imposed onto them anymore.

        If there is something that the general population (as "general" as gamers can be) wants to have, and if this commodity is not distributed or offered for money from anyone anymore, who gets hurt by offering it for free? Who is damaged? Who loses money?

        If "abandonware" ga
        • Yes, they are, by legal standards, pirate sites. The question is, though, whether they are in the wrong or whether the law is. The first step to dictatorship is when the citizens of a country don't question the laws imposed onto them anymore.

          You'll get no argument from me on that front. Where my argument lies is with the general replacement of laws with anarchy. 'I have the unlimited right to copy, distribute, rip, burn, etc... anything, anytime, anywhere' is the attitude so often espoused.

          If there is s

          • What anarchy?

            I don't demand an unlimited right to copy. What I do question is whether it is "right" (not by legal, rather by "moral" standards) to disallow the distribution of something that is not distributed by the legal owner. If a game is offered at a store, I can go into that store and buy it. No problem. I want to play it, I pay the price, everyone's happy.

            But what if I want to play a game that isn't offered by its creator anymore? Am I disallowed to play it? Because the rights owner says so? There ar
  • by 192939495969798999 (58312) <infoNO@SPAMdevinmoore.com> on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @12:05PM (#15255081) Homepage Journal
    They missed a bunch of stuff from the 80's-90's that is VERY hard to find now. For example, anyone remember the Apple II game "Floppy", with the little marshmallow-looking guy? If you have it, let me know... I'd be that the LOC has some freaking trouble finding stuff like that in 2006!
  • Half Life 2 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ToxikFetus (925966)
    Are they also going to archive Valve's Steam servers so future generations can access Half Life 2?
    • Good Question.

      I was thinking about this last time I saw one of those articles championing games "of the future" that download on the fly as you play them.
      Even now I wonder where my purchased copy of Geometry Wars will go after the Xbox 360 gives up the ghost or if MS ever closes shop on Xbox Live. I can't play any of those games without being connected to the MS servers. I know it probably wont happen to MS but what about down the road. I'm sure we'll see some downloadable only content come around for
      • I know with the super famicom they had a somewhat similar system called the satellaview (It wasn't over the internet so much as a Satellite system or something). While I haven't played many of the games made for that system (seeing as though I don't speak japanese), the complete remake of Zelda 1 (BS-Zelda) was captured and eventually stored somehow, even though it was a download game, as well as being time based (you could only play it certain times I think). There are patches that allow you to play it a
  • Yay, 8088State & EFNet #o.w. !!! LOC's already been beat, hands-down, by preservationists! (Long before abandonware sites came online, thanks!)
  • Does this mean that games will be able to fully enjoy free speech protections since even the Library of Congress is considering archvining them?
  • by rlp (11898) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @12:27PM (#15255278)
    Right next to the Ark of the Covenant ... a copy of Duke Nukem Forever.
  • Mod's, S3ms, demo's (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BrookHarty (9119) on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @12:59PM (#15255564) Homepage Journal
    Would be nice if all the artwork and music for demos and boot loaders where kept around. The digital expression that kick started the video game industry and hackers turned video game producers should be kept around.

    Entire parts of the digital, pre-internet history are being lost with new technology.

    -
    Scene Music [scenemusic.net]
  • by Karl Cocknozzle (514413) <kcocknozzle&hotmail,com> on Wednesday May 03, 2006 @01:06PM (#15255628) Homepage
    ...I don't know about you, but I don't want my Grandkids/Wife/whoever knowing how many hookers I beat up while playing GTA3: Vice City.
  • I like this idea because it lends more credibility to an industry often derrided by politicians for being violent and counter-productive. It's the first step in moving games away from being a scapegoat toward what they truly are: interactive art.
  • About how they will archive the required hardware or server-side authentication etc... but not about what they would be archiving. While Half Life 2 et al might make the honor of archival, that's not a for-sure thing either. What exactly would qualify a game for inclusion in the LOC?
    • If it's an "archive," shouldn't everything qualify? The entire point of it is to preserve it in case you want it in the future, and there's no way of knowing which things will be important then. Archaeologists learn the most from ancient cultures' trash, you know.
  • Congratulations Library of Congress. You now understand what we in the international community of pop historians and computer archivists have known for years; that our electronic culture, diversions and all, is fragile and worth preserving. I sincerely hope copyright and patents issues won't in any way hinder you the way they have us.

    As you embark to build a collection of arcade, home console, and home computer components that I'm sure will one day surpass my own, please remember to maintain a proper ima
  • I guess they are also going to be archiving 20 years of hardware, OS's & drivers too. Or are we just going to have a useless stack of cds & floppy discs.
  • UCSC (University of California, Santa Cruz) already started its own videogame library in preparation for its new Computer Science & Videogame Design [ucsc.edu] major that starts in 2007. The plan is to accept games as donations from students, and purchase several consoles and powerful PCs to play them. Also, many colleges with videogame design/engeneering majors already have notable videogame collections.
  • If we've been using Libraries Of Congress as a unit of measurement for the capacity of DVDs, what happens when games shipped on DVD are added to the Library of Congress, man?

Don't sweat it -- it's only ones and zeros. -- P. Skelly

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