Falcom Donation

A Donation of Documents About the Golden Age of Falcom

The company that has continuously produced high-quality games since the age of microcomputer – Nihon Falcom Corporation has made a donation of a dead stock of floppy disks used for user support to us.
 

Opening the treasure box


 

Digging the carefully packed artifacts

The disks we received included Ys, which is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary this year. The total number of disks we received is 262.  These disks were backups that were distributed to users who could not play the games they bought because their copy was defective or bugged. Which means that all the titles in the collection are completely bug-free copies. Also, they are all unused and clean copies without user saves.

Replacement floppy disks (early “Ys”)


 

Precious materials in fine condition


 
The Nihon Falcom Corporation style meant not only producing quality games but also a high regard for the company’s history. The condition of the collection we received reflects this philosophy. The 262 floppy disks we received will be preserved in our archive room as an important part of Falcom’s history livening up Japanese gaming.
 

Checking the surface of the disk for mold


 

Dedicated container for 5.25″ disks


 
Our archive room is specially designed to maintain temperature and humidity and to reject any source of damage from sunlight and magnetism. To prevent the degradation of the documents, we use a specially designed container, jointly designed with Archival Conservation & Enclosures Co., Ltd., so that the documents are confidently passed down to the next generation in good condition. Furthermore, to prevent the complete loss of data due to degradation, we will use specialized equipment to digitize the data in the floppy disks. These 2 steps are made to prevent the loss of documents in our care.
 

Registration of every disk with a QR code


 

Climate controlled archive room (Tokyo)


 
This donation is a very meaningful one to us. Nihon Falcom Corporation, one of the creators of what we aim to preserve, has placed their trust in us by giving us their documents. We will work even harder to increase the documents in our care, whether it is for one more, or for a day longer.
 
We are preparing our archive room for public viewing. We are constantly working hard to build an archive that can contribute to students of gaming history and creators alike, but we still lack the people and resources. To open our archive room to the public, which houses over 10,000 80s~90s PC games, we need your help and support. Please do help us if you like our work.
 
* Those interested in pledging contributions may do so here. *
 
Game Preservation Society, Joseph REDON
Photos, Nicolas DATICHE (http://nicolasdatiche.com/)
Translated by Ming TEE

PC Engine

PC Engine Creator Memories

No Memories Left Behind

When you think about the subject of game preservation, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? A lot of people view it as amassing huge game collections. I should know because I used to think about it that way myself.

Here’s the problem with that mentality, though: if game preservation is defined purely in relation to game collecting, then what criteria should be used to determine which games make the cut and which don’t? When I first met Joseph Redon, the chairman of the Game Preservation Society, I asked him just that, about how we were supposed to decide who would pick the games to preserve for future generations and how would they would then make those calls. The answer that he gave me really stunned me.

“Every game should be preserved,” he answered. “After all, there might well be games that aren’t well regarded today that will go on to be better appreciated and understood in the future. That’s why it’s also important to not just preserve the games themselves, but also their packaging, their manuals, even the techniques and memories of people who played them during their heyday.”

I remember thinking it was a really tall order trying to preserve literally every game, albeit one worth pursuing. If such a vision was ever going to be achieved, it certainly couldn’t be done alone; it’d take the help and support of a lot of dedicated people to make it a reality. Knowing that, while I didn’t have anything special to contribute in terms of skills or even just the games I owned, I decided to join up with Joseph and his team anyway to try and make some sort of difference.

My Senior Coworker: Designer of the PC Engine

Years and years ago, I used to work at NEC Home Electronics and just by chance, I happened work with someone who was involved with designing the PC Engine. It’s not every day you meet someone who helped bring about such an iconic piece of video game hardware and it’s been something of a lingering dream of mine for a long time to be able to talk to them about their involvement.

I first learned about the connection soon after joining the company. Back then, however, I had no published experience as a writer, let alone conducted an interview before, so I sat on that desire to interview them for a good 20 years or so. But after Joseph told me about his mission to preserve every game to such a definitive degree, I felt it was time to act and make that interview happen, seeing as how, again, preserving memories about games is just as important to us at the Society as preserving the games themselves.

The timing for doing so couldn’t have been any better. This coworker of mine recently retired at long last and while attending their farewell party, I finally summoned the courage to ask them if they would be willing to discuss their history with the PC Engine. Luckily for me, they graciously accepted. The main thing I decided to focus on in the interview was how the planning and design process went for the PC Engine from NEC’s side. Much has been written over the years about the technology that Hudson contributed to the system and while that’s all well and good, I thought it was important to also discuss NEC’s side of the story as a collaborator, too, while the people involved with it are still around to talk about it.

I sat down with my former coworker one chilly autumn day in Shibuya in 2015 to discuss times long past, the clouds above threatening to rain. The text of that interview follows below. One thing to note, however, is that this coworker wanted to remain anonymous, so for the duration of the interview, they’ll be referred to simply as “K.”

Enjoy!


■ K’S Involvement with PCs and Games

Numa: Were you interested in computers and games as a student?

K: I was, yeah. I first came into contact with NEC working part-time for them writing demo programs and technical manuals designed for programmers. After I graduated from university, I ended up joining NEC full-time and from there, I was assigned to their PC division.

Even when as a high school student, K was really into computers. He’d read all sorts of magazines about them, not just ones published in Japan, but from around the world. And after they started going to university, they joined a research society that was dedicated to amateur radio and computers. Not long after they entered that school, NEC released the PC-8001 and they went out and bought it immediately.

Numa: So you were already interested in PCs just as they were starting to take off.

K: Somewhat. If we’re being technical, I wasn’t exactly there from the very beginning. I missed the first generation of them, I guess you could say, by about three or four years.

Numa: What about games? Were you into those at all? What did you think of arcades back then?

K: Oh yeah, I was really into games, too. I used to go to arcades a lot to play stuff like Space Invaders. Those games could really eat into your wallet if you let them, so after buying that PC-8001, I actually made my own block-breaking and mahjong games, which was a lot of fun.

■ The New Guy at NEC

Numa: What sort of work did you do once you joined NEC full-time?

K: Like I mentioned before, I was initially assigned to work in their former PC division. I wanted to help make hardware, so I’d go around talking to third-parties about a variety of things, like what architecture we should go with next, whether the sound needed a boost. Things like that.

Numa: What about sprites? What did you think about the limitations and how to improve those capabilities?

K: When I first started, we were bound by two things: sheer cost and the limit of large scale integration technology. This meant that we couldn’t have sprites that overlapped one another. We had it by the time we got to the PC-88VA since that was a 16-bit PC, which had a modest sprite architecture powering it.

Numa: Did you play the Famicom at all when that came out?

K: Definitely. The company bought one as soon as that was out and I messed around with that, although that was mostly because it had the word “computer” right in the name, I’ll admit. (Laughs.) Of course, I ended up buying one for myself, too.

To provide additional context to these remarks, when K first joined NEC, the first half of every work year at their division was spent on product planning, with the remaining time afterwards to doing programming for systems and other related areas. In 1985, their third year at the company, NEC’s PC division was merged with NEC Home Electronics, with K subsequently assigned to their personal electronics section afterwards.

As the name NEC Home Electronics would suggest, that portion of the company was concerned with consumer level electronics, giving people like K easy access to video game consoles to play and examine during work hours. It was also around this time that the seminal Super Mario Bros. also came out, turning up the heat up on the nascent Japanese home video game industry.

K: I don’t think this has been widely reported over the years, but in 1985, in a lone room inside its old headquarters, NEC set up a taskforce dedicated to getting the company into the game console business. This taskforce was made up of four people in all: myself, a member from the sales team, and two other people. The four of us spent about three months, all told, looking into what it would take for the company to enter the console market.

During that time, we examined a lot about the Famicom, why it was so successful, what its weaknesses were, the business model behind it, things like that. In the mornings, we’d play Super Mario Bros. (Laughs.) Then in the afternoon, we’d go around talking to developers and publishers as we tried to formulate our battle plan. Not only were we trying to figure out what sort of machine we should make to surpass the Famicom, but what sort of strengths did we have as a company that we could put into this machine to really make it shine.

When it came to our business model, we came to the conclusion that we couldn’t just reuse our existing practices with PCs part and parcel. Instead, we needed to bring in developers more closely and get them to work for our platform under a royalty-based system. On the hardware side of things, the easiest way we figured the system could stand out in contrast to the Famicom was by providing superior graphics and audio hardware so that developers could express themselves better. Given that NEC Home Electronics was also involved in helping to establish CD-ROMs as a storage medium, we also decided it’d be worthwhile to have our machine support those, as well.

Numa: That’s amazing to hear you were all thinking of using CD-ROMs in the system as early as 1985. That’s really ahead of your time! Did you guys set out to execute your plans on entering the industry after deciding on all that?

K: Yes and no. At its heart, in those days, NEC was still a device and equipment manufacturer at its heart, so for us, making a console back then meant that we needed to find outside collaborators on the processor and software side of things. So after the taskforce was disbanded, upper management at the company spent about a year seeking out partners that would be up to the task.

Luckily for us, Hudson was also engaged in similar activities as us at the team, so we teamed up with them and Seiko Epson to get the job done. Once we had those two companies on board, that was when we got really serious about getting into game consoles, at which point I came back to help with more investigatory work.

Having Hudson on board in particular was important to us. They already had experience developing games for the Famicom and knew that system inside and out. We figured that by combining that knowledge with our CD-ROM technology, we could create a force to be reckoned with in the marketplace.

CoreGrafx 2

■ Planning and Developing the PC Engine

Numa: I guess now’s as good of a time as any to ask if you could clarify the meaning behind “PC Engine” as the system’s name. I know I read somewhere in an article before that the “Engine” part refers to how the console is structured around its hardware core. But does the “PC” part refer to computers like what NEC was working on?

K: More or less, yes. PC, of course, was meant to refer to personal computing. It was part of the name because we wanted our machine to be about more than just about its games, to be a big part of people’s day-to-day life.

Numa: A lot of people fondly remember the PC Engine for the quality of its arcade game ports. Was this something you guys deliberately planned for when formulating the system?

K: That was more of a consequence of everyone at NEC wanting to push CD-ROM technology than a deliberate attempt at courting arcade game developers. It was a question of how we could clearly show consumers that our hardware was superior to the Famicom without making the PC Engine prohibitively expensive to produce. We gave the system what we could to justify the CD-ROM support, which in turned happened to make it friendly to arcade game ports, as well.

Numa: It’s definitely a distinct approach when you compare the PC Engine to the Mega Drive, which was more directly based on arcade architecture at the time.

K: The thing about arcade hardware back then was that it used expensive memory modules willy-nilly, but if you tried doing that with consumer hardware, it’d make the purchase price jump up considerably. When it came to the architecture behind things like how sprites on the PC Engine worked, that was Hudson’s work and in my opinion, their insight gave us the best hardware design on that front that we could ever hope for at the time.

Numa: Even still, considering the system sold for 24,800 yen, I remember thinking it was an expensive piece of technology, even more so than the Famicom back then.

K: It’s worth pointing out that even at that price point, we weren’t making any profit on the hardware. Software royalties actually helped us lessen the blow. If we had tried to recoup our research and development for the hardware directly through the console, I bet you it would have come in at somewhere around 50,000, maybe even 70,000 yen.

CoreGrafx 2

■ Post-Launch PC Engine Hardware

Numa: I think one of the things that makes the PC Engine so fascinating today is how many different variations just based on the core console there are. Were things like the SuperGrafx designed with the Mega Drive and Super Famicom in mind?

K: Not particularly, truth be told. NEC in general had a history of providing different grades of hardware from low end, entry level stuff to more high end products that were designed for enthusiasts. Things like the SuperGrafx were essentially an extension of that philosophy.

Numa: On a similar note, one thing I always found curious was why you could find PC Engine hardware embedded in things like Sharp’s X1 Twin, but not in any of NEC’s own computers. Why was that?

K: The problem with integrating something like a PC Engine into a more typical computer is that you have to develop multiple motherboards in order to properly accommodate the different hardware on both ends. Our idea to get around that was to integrate the PC Engine hardware inside a PC monitor instead and bypass the issue altogether, which we did with the PC-KD863G. In the case of the X1 Twin, I’m pretty sure Sharp had the two sides operate in isolation of one another in order to circumvent that same issue.

Numa: The LD-ROM² is also a really interesting beast. That was a Pioneer product, but I think NEC Home Electronics also put it out, too. What was the thinking at NEC behind those sorts of collaborations at the time?

K: By the time the LD-ROM² came out, I wasn’t involved in such things anymore, but generally speaking, NEC was just the sort of company that would give most anything a shot if they had the means to do so. In the post-Famicom age especially, they were really gung-ho about those sorts of experiments.

Numa: Was there a time during your work on the PC Engine that you recall as being especially exciting for you?

K: Hmm… Not that it wasn’t an exciting time to work on it, because it certainly was, but the thing that sticks out to me about the PC Engine looking back on it now is how it slowly, but surely grew up to be its own thing in the world of video games. I mean, eventually, a number of magazines were founded that were dedicated to it and it got more and more exposure on TV over time.

Numa: I’m sure you must be proud of that.

K: I am, but the PC Engine only took up about a fifth of my career. (Laughs.) The bulk of it was still in PCs.

Numa: I think most people would jump at the chance to devote even that much of their career to something like that, you know! (Laughs.)

While their work on the PC Engine might not have been their primary focus in the grand scheme of things, it’s not the only game-related hardware with which K was involved in creating. They also helped with planning on the PC-88VA and wrote its BASIC language interpreter. People who know their PC history will know the PC-88VA as a 16-bit computer with sprite functionality embedded in the hardware, making it a rather game-friendly computer.

Numa: After it’s all been said and done, do you think NEC made the right choice by getting into the game hardware business?

K: I’d say so, yes. There’s certainly a long history of turning PCs into video game hardware in general. The PC Engine wasn’t even our first real foray into that arena in a sense. The PC-8801mkIISR before it was certainly built with video games in mind.

Numa: That’s a good point. In that sense, the PC Engine is a spiritual successor of sorts, part of NEC’s computer lineage.

■ Post-Launch PC Engine Software

It goes without saying that you can make the best game hardware in the world, but it’s nothing without a good lineup of software to back it up and the PC Engine was no different. NEC wasn’t content to leave actual game development system solely to third parties. To that end, it did things like establish NEC Avenue in order to make its own mark on the platform. Nevertheless, in addition to Hudson’s significant contributions to the system, when it came to third parties, companies like Konami and Sega were also critical to the success that the platform enjoyed.

Numa: Back when the console wars were still raging, I was a Mega Drive fan myself, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous that the PC Engine had some heavy hitters like Gradius in its corner. It felt like Konami only ever put out its best work on that to a degree. (Laughs.)

K: You’re not wrong. Konami came on board by way of Hudson, who they were plenty friendly with and shared deep business ties. During the PC Engine days, NEC ranked and prioritized its third party developers in various ways. Konami was considered to be among the top of the heap and got really preferential treatment when it came to the contracts we shared with them and the like.

Numa: Sega also had a noticeable presence on the PC Engine with some of its tent pole titles like Space Harrier.

K: Games like that were what NEC Avenue tended to take on. If, say, we couldn’t risk putting a game out through our main brand or something other circumstantial reason prevented us from more directly putting something out, then we’d turn to NEC Avenue and have them take the project on.

■ The Convergence

While the PC Engine managed to carve its own place in the marketplace, eventually, change was in the air as the industry transitioned into a new generation of hardware. In 1991, K was put in charge of the PC Engine Duo, a hardware revision designed to be essentially the complete and total package for the PC Engine experience. After helping plan out what would come next for the system after that, they returned to working at NEC’s headquarters.

Meanwhile, in the wake of NEC’s PC-88VA, the company sought to collate its efforts in 16-bit computing with the realization of the PC-9801. For their part, K was once again involved in planning the PC-98DO, which was backwards compatible with PC-8801 programs, in turn helping the company unify the resources it had built up for its previous generation of computing hardware.

Numa: The concept of the core structure for the PC Engine had a lot of potential, I feel like. Was there anything more you wish you could’ve achieved with it if you’d had the opportunity?

K: Overall, I think we did a good job of showing what the PC Engine could offer as an expandable computer terminal of sorts for homes. But, I will admit that I’d wanted to give it additional communications capabilities, like how Nintendo managed to make the Wii an early networked device that worked within the confines of the living room.

The problem on our end was mostly one of timing. During the PC Engine’s life cycle, computers were moving away from directly communicating with one another to operating over more widespread networks and ultimately the Internet. We were just a little too early to create a machine that could both be hooked up to a TV and readily do that sort of networked communication.

Numa: This is just a hypothetical question, but if the PC Engine had fared better overseas, do you think NEC would’ve committed to making a successor to it?

K: The main reason why there was no proper successor to the PC Engine, to put it simply, is that we just weren’t able to come up with a polygonal graphics architecture and accompanying development environment for a console that developers would find compelling. It wouldn’t have been enough even to just take existing PC graphics technology and slap it inside a console frame.

We needed an external partner to make it work, but we were never able to find one. And it couldn’t have just been any old company, either. We needed a defining piece of technology for a successor that could justify its existence and hardware like the CD-ROM technology did for the PC Engine, but we just didn’t have it. We didn’t have any more secret weapons we could rely on to make that critical dent.

■ The PC Engine’s Legacy

Numa: If you were to summarize what the PC Engine meant to you and the company, what would you say?

K: That’s a tough one. There are a lot of angles you can take to look back on it. I guess I’ll say that if it wasn’t the PC Engine, NEC Home Electronics wouldn’t have existed for as long as it did for those five years.

The thing to remember is that when it was founded, the center of the home electronics business was quickly moving towards Taiwan and Southeast Asia. If the business was to stay within Japan, it had to be capable of producing something that couldn’t be made anywhere else. And in that sense, I think they made the right move for the time to make NEC Home Electronics the game console manufacturing arm.

Numa: It’s hard to ask for much more than as one of the designers behind it, I’m sure.

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to come talk to me today.


In Conclusion

As I put the final touches on this article after interviewing K, I’d like to express my gratitude for this opportunity once again.

Many thanks to K for sitting down with me and having this long conversation. While we sometimes got on a tangent about their work on the PC88 line of computers, seeing as they were in charge of that as well, I feel that, overall, this interview covered a lot of interesting ground about the PC Engine’s inception and progress as time went on. It’s the first time I’ve ever put together an interview like this, but I’m really glad I did now, so that these memories could be preserved for posterity.

And on that note, I’d like to conclude by asking all of you readers to think about how you, too, can help preserve game history. Big or small, it all matters in its own way.

Thank you for reading this article!

Yours truly,

Game Preservation Society, Takayuki NUMA

Photos by Eddy BRIEREPhotos by Eddy BRIERE

Translated by Thomas James

Sadao YAMANAKA (山中貞雄)

The purpose of our society

The purpose of our organization, the Game Preservation Society, as the name implies, is to preserve video games.  When we talk about this, we are often asked “What games do you choose to preserve? ”

We always have the same answer to that

“All of them.”

Because it is so simple, the people who ask us often look surprised when they hear the answer. I know how they feel.

But that is the only logical answer to the question. If we are talking about Individual artworks such as paintings or any sort of craftwork, we can ask the question, “What do you choose to put into your collection?” And often that is the job of museums and such. But when we talk about what is (generally) a mass produced item, the ideal answer would be “All of them.”

This can be quite counter-intuitive.

We call books, magazines, movies, TV programs, music “media art”, but video games also have the same attributes.

Media art has a shorter history than traditional art but when people started to consider preserving them, it was too already too late and many works that should have been preserved was not preserved.

Let’s look at a few examples:

Movies

The mechanisms for practical use of movies were established during 1895-1896. They were initially used to display sceneries. But the development of various techniques made it possible to show fictional stories play out on screen.
But because of its role as entertainment, films that dropped in popularity were discarded without any second thought. It is said that in some cases, the silver used to produce images were recycled, allowing the film itself to also be reused. Their value as a piece of work was temporary.As a result, only 15% (at most) of the early silent films are left today.  It is a similar case in Japan, where less than 10% of Japan-produced silent films are left today.
In the States, because of copyright laws, there was a need for depositing paper copies of movies in the Library of Congress. So, many movies were revived from there. Even then, the majority of movies are lost and never to be seen again.
The critically acclaimed Yasujirou Ozu’s early works and the works of Sadao Yamanaka, who he held in high regard, are mostly lost.
The period in which movies started to be thought of as a subject of preservation may differ between countries, but it is no mistake that they were all after the 1930s. By then, it was too late. Recently, part of “A diary of Chuji’s Travels”(1927) was recovered, but that is a very rare case. One of the reasons is that the material used for recording naturally degrades after a length of time.
忠次旅日記(監督・伊藤大輔)
Source: “A diary of Chuji’s Travels” (Director: Daisuke ITOU)
懺悔の刃(監督・小津安二郎)
Source: “Sword of Penitence” (Director: Yasujiro OZU)


TV programs

So did the TV industry learn from the mistakes of their movie counterpart? Unfortunately no.

Even NHK did not think of preserving their productions until the 1980s. The reason for that, however, is partly financial. The videotapes used then were expensive so TV studios were inclined to reuse them.

Much of the Taiga dramas, which cost a lot to produce, has not survived either. Most of them have the first and last episodes and, rarely, an extra recap episode stored in the archives, but that’s it. On the other hand, because the films of TV dramas and animation that were made with movie equipment couldn’t be reused, or they might have been cheaper, some old ones have survived till today.  For example the drama “Taiyō ni Hoero!”, airing from 1972 to 1986  is still being shown as reruns, as well as having its DVD released.

NHK is also requesting the recorded tapes, of some TV series from the 1970s to 1980s, from the public.  Unfortunately, VHS (the popular medium of the time) players had only been available on the market since 1976. So any TV programs aired before then has very little chance of resurfacing. As an exception, we have the first part of the “Shonen Drama Series” – “Time-Traveller” (1972). Its first episode was found as an open-reel tape which was a form of home-used recording at the time. The other four episodes, however, hasn’t been found. Its sequel suffers a less fortunate fate where none of its episodes have survived.

So, what is wrong with this state of affairs?

Is it simply that we don’t get a second chance to see what was lost again? No, because if people who think that way all pass away then nobody would be left to think of it as a problem.
So, naturally, that is not the issue.
Even without nostalgia, works of art can be of value even if times have changed. We can even find new value in old things. If the works aren’t preserved, that possibility itself is lost.
In cases that they were historically valued, if we cannot view it again today, there is no way to assess that judgment. The only thing that can provide that possibility is the work itself.

“Why haven’t they been preserved?” The answer to that question is multifaceted. It can be explained by economic reasons, but it may also just have been lost in a fire. Although extremely rare, there were cases where the film was deliberately disposed of because the lead actor/actress was involved in some sort of scandal. Other than accidents, the main reason would be that people thought it wouldn’t be needed ever again.
However, it has been shown that the value of a product can rise with some delay.
If the creator, or team of creators, has produced a highly popular piece of work, people will seek out their previous work. In the video game industry, “Metal Gear” is one of those pieces of work. The first in the series was made in 1987, its second in 1990, both for a console called MSX2. It never really got the chance to be in the spotlight until “Metal Gear Solid” was released in 1998. A few years after the success of “Solid”, coinciding with the rise of internet auctions, “Metal Gear” was being traded at fairly high prices.  Today, second-hand copies “Metal Gear” and “Metal Gear 2” are both being sold at prices above their retail price of the time. It is hard to imagine that in 1995, MSX games had close to no value such that nobody bothered to trade-in their second-hand games.

Let’s go back to our topic. Even famous games now might have experienced a period where they were considered worthless before people recognize their value.

What if they had not survived until the time comes? The cruel truth is that absolutely nothing could be done. If they don’t exist anymore, they cannot be evaluated, and are therefore just forgotten eventually.

That is why, to prevent that, we have to preserve ALL of it. The movie and TV industry failed to do so. “Value” may not necessary only mean monetary value, but if we knew for sure that by re-releasing a certain game, it would certainly sell, more often than not what is stopping us is that no copy of it exists anymore.

One more thing I’d like to add is that “All” has one more meaning. That is, “In preservation, we will not discriminate”.

Like I have said before, even if something has no value at the point of its release, that may not be the case somewhere down the road. But that is not all, we also do not wish to spend time discussing the value of things.

For example, We have a game that sold well upon its release, and one that did not. By saying we will preserve one, we are also saying we will not preserve the other. If we say we will not preserve the game that did not sell, then we would need to decide a threshold for that. i.e If it did not sell as many copies as our threshold, we will not preserve it. Which we then have to investigate.

If we make that judgment not by sales but by content, it becomes even harder. Whether we decide to dismiss some because it has “Adult Content” or just plain “Boring”, we would need to discuss the standards for that. And there are no objective standards in this case. So we would need to discuss endlessly. While doing that we would not have time for preservation work. That is why we need to preserve “All of it”, to save time. Our National Diet Library also has the same philosophy. Although some books and magazines haven’t been preserved, it is only because it had not been donated, not because they made a choice not to.

Video games still have a short history, only 40 years. As with movies and TV, there has been a long period in which people think of video games as a form of entertainment that will not last. Furthermore, since the development of tech is very fast, by the first half of the 1990s, most of the works from a generation before had been discarded. In particular, 8-bit PC games are being highly valued recently despite the dirt-cheap prices it was traded at just a few years ago.

For video games, its creators and users are still very much around. Which is unlike movies whose viewers from the early days are no longer around and countless works have no hope to be rediscovered and doomed to be forgotten forever.  Even if they had been highly praised, we would not know its value just from articles of the time. Even if they were made by great directors, we cannot evaluate the work itself. The same goes for TV programs.

We struggle to prevent the same tragedy repeating itself in the video game industry. That is why I answer “All of them” to the question at the beginning.

It may be difficult in reality. It may be that there are already games lost forever. But the lesson here is that we have to strive to preserve “All of them”.

Game Preservation Society, Yoshimasa KUSAKA
Translated by Ming TEE


Links:
The National Museum of Modern Art, National Film Center
NPO Film Preservation Society