|Say hello to 90's console games.|
In part, of course, this has to do with the nature of the video game industry. See, rather than a large, singular entity that oversees the industry (think Hollywood), the game industry is more a collection of independent city-states. There are no standards for retaining the games of a given era. If Sony wants to make a set of rules about storing and saving games/consoles for future generations, Microsoft doesn't have to follow in suit. Similarly, just because Nintendo usually makes its consoles backwards compatible with earlier consoles' games (which slows the death of a game generation, even if it doesn't prevent it) doesn't mean anyone else has to. There are no rules for preservation, and there are no institutions for archiving games (again, like the movie industry has).
This is a bad, bad thing. Now, being an American child from a time before parents bought their 5 year-olds iPhones, I never really had the money or the authority to determine what gaming machines came into my house, and as such I was console-less for my entire childhood. We had a PC and a Gameboy Advance, and that was it until we bought a Wii, which remains our only console. So, I speak as someone who never had and, as things currently stand, never will have, any console from the 90's. And what I'm speaking is strong, strong discontent. There were a plethora of awesome games from that period; they are quite literally the reason gaming is mainstream today. Believe me, the fact that I haven't played them springs from anything disinterest. I want to experience them, but I can't. Why? Because my parents never bought me one when I was five or whenever. In my opinion, that's a pretty terrible reason.
|Bad industry! Bad! Why haven't you re-released this every 5 years?|
All that said, these are really more band-aids covering the problem than actual solutions. The issue, again, lies with the nature of the industry. There's no single piece of technology you use to play games. You can't just buy a DVD (or I guess Blu-Ray is the thing nowadays) or MP3 player and be done with it; you have to get each and every console you want to play games for, and if the new ones aren't backwards compatible, well, you better get them too. The sheer amount of unique hardware required to play certain games means that you'd need some kind of super-console just to emulate them. See, this is why emulators and digital distributors are only a temporary fix - do you think they'll be able to emulate DS games? Well, ignoring the fantastic things the emulator would have to do, you'd still be sunk without a touch screen that accept multiple inputs at a time (that is, something you could use two or more(?) hands on simultaneously), as well as a mic and a function to read when the screen has been closed (and yes, I can point to games where all of these properties are needed). Want to emulate that Kinect game? Well, unless your PC also happens to have the hardware to read your body movements (and you feel comfortable flailing around in front of your computer desk), then too bad. See, games are constantly evolving. Sure, we can find ways to work with around the death of a generation of games, but how will people do it when the consoles we have now get phased out, and the ones after that, and the ones after that, short of inheriting them from us?
There are two answers to that question. The first is that they can't; they'll just have to take it and shut up. If you weren't born at the right time or didn't have enough money, you're just going to have to accept that you can't experience that era and move on. That, more or less, is the situation we are in now. The second is to set up some kind of means to make games playable in the future. Whether it's unprecedented backwards compatibility, some kind of digital distribution/emulator that is universally applicable, or just a bunker full of old consoles and games, as long as there's something to make them available to gamers, then we can make our era's games - and by extension a piece of ourselves - immortal, or close enough that they may as well be. I know which I like better; do you?