Unit 7: 02 – Treatment (Updated for Covid)

Emulation: The future of game preservation

I love game preservation. Collecting physical media and games is one of my favourite pastimes whether it’s for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, NES, Gameboy or any other console, I just downright love it. Sadly it’s an expensive hobby and requires lots of maintenance, like lots. I want to look into it’s helped preservation in how companies have abandoned their old games and projects, leaving the community to protect these games as the old physical copies degrade over time.

How I’d like to tackle this is by going through the history of videogame emulation and how it go to where it is today as well as where it’s going in the future as well as how current advancements in technology are constantly improving it. I also want to go into the legal difficulties emulation has faced in its history such as the Bleem emulator for the PlayStation one and Sony’s suing but eventual adoption of the history as well as the recent code releases and their impact on emulation. Another subject is the legality of ROMS and where to best obtain them.

I want to look into how various companies, especially those who have fought against emulation, have adopted and how it’s become the main way for bringing older titles to newer consoles instead of porting or remastering as the amount of work required is reduced thanks to the open source community providing various emulators online for use by anyone.

One of the Benefits of Emulation is the modification of games. Emulation can help games look drastically better than playing older consoles on modern TVs which scale improperly or can sometimes look even better than playing on a CRT, with options to improve older games being available such as Much Higher Resolutions, Better performance, Faster Loading, Widescreen Support, Texture Filtering and Texture upgrades through texture packs, using modern controllers and even higher framerates. So much can be done to these older games to make them more playable and even better than the original releases.

ROM hacks are a huge benefit of emulation and a huge part of it! New game developers have come from creating simple ROM hacks to creating brand new games from the experience gained in designing for those titles such as Christian Whitehead, who headed the development of the next Sonic game, Sonic Mania. ROM hacks also can create brand new experience, creating new content for the games or acting as a brand new game with newer content brought to users for free. These can be as simple as a new character up to a whole new world or even being changed into an entirely new game.

Lastly I want to look into how easy it is to get into emulation through using a Raspberry Pi and setting up a quick emulation box and show off how various games are improved. This is to show people how easy it is to get into as well as hopefully encourage some people to give it a try for older games they own. In the end, I think emulation is an amazing technology and it being open source makes it even better as anyone can come in and work on it and improve it. Although it has legal grey areas in terms of obtaining games, I believe as well as Linux, its the best way to preserve games which aren’t in portable formats like music and movies are, making it difficult to bring forward.

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