Foundation Attempting To Preserve Gaming History By Saving Source Codes

Video games have a long and storied history, starting with the introduction of the world’s very first game—Pong. Of course, things have become a little more sophisticated—and crowded—since then, with thousands upon thousands of lines of code needed to run the thousands upon thousands of games on the market. Those lines of computer language are critical to the history of gaming, though, which is why one foundation is attempting to preserve as much source code as they can.

Triple-A titles get a lot of attention when it comes to the preservation of their history, however, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of small studios and individuals out there making games that could be lost to time without a concerted effort to save their history. Games like, Among Us—for example—whose three-person team is all that is preventing the game from being lost forever.

The Video Game History Foundation has announced an initiative to save as much gaming source code—which includes everything from concept art, to e-mails, to computer code—as they possibly can. The problem, as they explain it, is that game creators don’t want their “source code” to be public knowledge in the first place.

At least, not in the beginning. Having access to developer notes and computer codes could make it very easy to copy games or for cheaters to hack them, ruining the game for everyone. However, even after the threat has passed the “source code” is still tightly protected, or worse, lost in office moves, thrown away, stored on decaying media, or otherwise forgotten.

The foundation is seeking to reverse that process and preserve the history of games while protecting intellectual and proprietary property. It’s a tight rope to walk, but one that the foundation believes is worth it. Given the fact that a video game museum in the UK was able to secure a $52,000 grant from a “Cultural Recovery” fund, it’s clear that there is a cultural—if not academic—interest in preserving the history of video games that are part of our lives.

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