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    Preserving video games in the digital age

    Preserving video games in the digital age


    The creator of the bnes emulator has spent plenty of time and money keeping the Super Nintendo preserved, but he fears that future games might not be quite so lucky.

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    Digital preservation is an issue for just about every medium — from film and literature to the web itself — and video games are no different. And when it comes to keeping the Super Nintendo alive, Byuu is one of the most prominent figures thanks to his bnes emulator, which attempts to emulate Nintendo's 16-bit console as accurately as possible. This March, after years of work, the project finally managed to accurately emulate each and every SNES coprocessor — leading to an emulator that could play every officially released game. He's even gone a step further with the SNES Preservation Project, in which he has spent more than $10,000 to gather every Super Nintendo game released in North America. The collection is complete, and he's now in the process archiving the 700+ game library.

    However, while his efforts have helped keep an important part of gaming history alive for the foreseeable future, his outlook for the future of game preservation isn't particularly positive. "Nowadays there's all the DRM, the digital-only downloads and post-sale game patches, and the upcoming restrictions against resale," Byuu told Tested, "and I see a very bleak future for preservation." And as games continue to be a culturally relevant art form, we can only hope that someone will figure out a way around these issues to keep them preserved for future generations.