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Understand our mission through a few questions

How does the Game Preservation Society work?

The Game Preservation Society is a Japanese Non-Profit Organisation dedicated to preserving video games from the 1970s, 80s and 90s. It was founded in 2011 and consists of 17 core members and 28 support members. The organisation holds one General Assembly per year as well as smaller sessions as required by various activities (repairing a machine, archiving games, etc). The organisation relies solely on the subscriptions and donations of its members. It does not yet receive subsidies from any public institution, though is seeking support. So as to remain independent, the organisation is adamant about not relying on support from any game publishers.

How can I help the organisation?

No matter your profession, age, or citizenship, anyone is welcome to become a supporter of the Game Preservation Society. You just need to state your name and address, and pay a 3,000 yen subscription fee per year (or more if you want to support the organisation). This is roughly $30 / £20 / €30. If you are interested, please click on Donate from the menu and fill in the form to pre-register. As soon as the NPO can accept online payments from outside of Japan a member will contact you.

Where does our game collection come from?

Since its foundation, the Game Preservation Society has 40,000 video games in its records as well as 30,000 items related to video games (books, reviews, catalogues, CDs…). But the members often have two or three copies of the same game. So the organisation is managing 20,000 different video games out of an estimated 35,000 commercial video games from the 1970s, 80s and 90s. The members are particularly interested in PC games, which represent half of the collection. Actually, our collection of Japanese PC games might be the biggest in the world.

What does the organisation do with the games?

Because preserving old video games is difficult, the first mission of the Game Preservation Society is to develop proper techniques. The members separate the different elements of each game (tape, disk, cover art, manual…) and store them in the best environment with regards to temperature and humidity. Afterwards they process each game, to preserve or restore it where needed. The final stage involves producing a high quality master of the data, which contains absolutely everything including any anomalies present in the original, which can be used by future generations. This process is applied not only to magnetic games (tapes and floppy disks) but also to CD-ROMs, instruction manuals, and magazines!

What games does the Game Preservation Society preserve first?

As a joke, the president often says that he preserves “the worst games first, because someone else might have taken care of preserving the good and most famous games”. The aim of the organisation is to create an exhaustive archive that keeps a record not only of the well-known games but also – and most importantly – of forgotten titles. This way, future researchers can bring to light games that were overlooked or looked down upon in the past. The Game Preservation Society focuses on the games that nobody cares about and also those which are the most endangered or represent a challenge in being preserved. The members of the organisation are especially concerned about PC games from the 1980s, whose magnetic tapes tend to deteriorate very quickly, and also specific arcade games and early CD-ROMs such as for the PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16).

Why does the Game Preservation Society compare video games to ukiyo-e, the Japanese woodblock prints and paintings?

Surprisingly enough in a documentary about video games and preservation, by NHK World, the last sequence of the documentary takes place at the Ota memorial museum of art in Harajuku, Tokyo. Why this comparison between ukiyo-e and video games? As the founders of the organisation explain, woodblock printing was the most common mass medium in Japan. And while the Japanese considered it of little lasting value, ukiyo-e was highly praised in the West since the 19th century. Western collectors and the International Exhibition of 1867 in Paris, where Japan was represented for the first time, both played a major role in raising Western interest for these “prints of a floating world”. The fact that Japanese people were using those prints as a protective covering for sending their pottery and ceramics was another interesting way to spread ukiyo-e abroad. As a result, many of the largest high-quality collections of ukiyo-e now lie outside of Japan.
In the same manner, important collectors abroad have started gathering video games from the Japanese Golden Era of games (at the end of the 70s and 80s, plus the early 90s). By comparing video games to ukiyo-e, the members of the Game Preservation Society would like to alert Japanese people to the importance of preserving their own heritage.

Please feel free to ask more questions: “support at gamepres.org”.