One of my favorite YouTube channels is Jeremy Parish I Video Works. In the mid 2010’s Mr. Parish moved from being a key player on the Retronauts podcast to becoming the most scholarly video game historian I’ve ever come across. Mr. Parish has a fairly serious tone, both in his written and spoken voice. However, like a difficult teacher whom you begrudgingly admire, he will likely win you over with his understated humor and thorough (but not tedious) video essays. His channel on YouTube tackles the gargantuan task of chronicling the complete game catalogs of all major home systems, beginning with the Nintendo Entertainment System.
I bring up Mr. Parish’s channel because one of the common refrains of his gaming history videos is that much of the hardware and software he covers has disappeared, or is in danger of doing so. He often relies on borrowing consoles and games from private collectors. Failing that, he’ll use good scholarship when referencing secondary sources from other YouTube gaming historians, longplay channels, and the work of amateur translators and conservationists.
Video games are a modern enough industry that it feels incredible that its history is unsettled and at risk. With its earliest days still in living memory, it is strange that a scholar like Mr. Parish would even be needed; much less that he’d have so much work on his hands. As such, it feels reasonable to hope that major game developers and the network of companies that retain the rights to legacy IP would make a concerted effort to preserve and keep available the games of the past. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be happening. In a perfect world, there’d be no need for technically illegal emulation. Legacy hardware would be preserved for history with means for non-collectors to have occasional access the way a library or museum would provide. But most of all, the games of bygone eras wouldn’t lurk behind unexpected barriers to those who wish to play them.
What’s your take on game preservation? Are there any games you remember fondly, but have no way to play? What would the ideal state of retro gaming look like for you? Let us know in the comments or over at the Boss Rush Discord.
Image Credit: Galloping Ghost Arcade