Game history

Video Game History Foundation: Nintendo’s actions ‘actively destructive to video game history’

from ding-ding-ding! department

I’ve been pushing a bit lately about the importance of video game preservation as an art preservation issue. I’m not sure how much buy there is in general on this concept, but it’s a challenge in this specific industry because a lot of the control over what can or cannot be preserved is in the hands of game publishers and platforms in relation to other art forms. Books have libraries, films have academies and museums, and music is decently preserved everywhere. But for games, even organizations like the Video Game History Foundation must rely on publishers and platforms to let them do their job, or risk the art being lost entirely to the digital ether or legal lawsuits. author. We’ve talked in the past about how copyright law is too often used in a way that results in a loss of our own cultural history, and digital-only video games are particularly vulnerable to this.

We just discussed Nintendo’s upcoming closure of the 3DS and Wii U stores, and what that meant for the digital games Nintendo says it’s do not intend to sell elsewhere. Well, the Video Game History Foundation released a statement about this action and, well, hoo-boy…

While it’s unfortunate that people can no longer buy digital 3DS or Wii U games, we understand the business reality that drove this decision. What we don’t understand is the path Nintendo expects its fans to play, should they wish to play these games in the future. As a paying member of the Entertainment Software Association, Nintendo actively funds lobbying that prevents even libraries from being able to provide legal access to these games. Not providing commercial access is understandable, but preventing institutional work to preserve these additional titles is actively destructive to video game history. We encourage ESA members like Nintendo to rethink their position on this issue and work with existing institutions to find a solution.

Accusing Nintendo of being “actively destructive of video game history” is a hell of an accusation, but point out where it’s wrong. I’ll wait.

The problem here is that video games are still perceived, both by the public and by the producers, as something less than the genre of artistic production of literature, paintings, sculptures or films. Imagine a world where someone takes the collective works of Monet or Bach, shuts down the place where you can pay to see them, and then also says no one else is allowed to display them for commercial or non-commercial purposes . No one would accept such a situation. It’s the culture and it belongs, at least in some ways, to all of us.

Either because the history of video games is much more recent, or because of a heavy-handed disclaimer that these games aren’t “real art”, much less fury is being raised about Nintendo taking these actions without any guarantees, or in some cases hostility, to preservation efforts. Yes, Nintendo directly produced many of these games and has the rights to them because of that. But these games are also part of our shared cultural history, and no individual or company has or should have the right to determine how we document that cultural history.

If nothing else, that is certainly not the purpose of copyright law.

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Filed Under: culture, history, video games
Companies: nintendo, foundation for the history of video games