Play it again: One fan’s quest to save old video games
(more at the link)
When the French native moved to Tokyo in 2000 to research and archive retro Japanese PC titles he was shocked to find collections left to languish within an inclusive community. He wormed his way inside through online auctions and forums to contact others who shared his passion. In 2011, he established the Game Preservation Society, an NPO to save gaming from the landfill of pop culture.
We meet at the four-story apartment, in Tokyo’s Todoroki neighborhood, that serves as the group’s workshop, archive and Redon’s residence. I admire his vision. But why would anyone today care about, say — I pull a random package from the shelf — “Morita Shogi,” an unassuming shogi (Japanese chess) simulator? Redon doesn’t miss a beat.
“Oh, Morita-san was an exceptional programmer who wrote beautiful algorithms. Computer magazines used to sponsor reader-submitted game creation contests and this title was a winner. It wasn’t unheard of to pocket ¥10 million in prize money and royalties per game.”
Redon has an anecdote for each title in his archive. The disks are more than data. They’re a record of the forgotten history that today’s gaming industry is built upon. Imagine a generation of self-taught programmers, the Bill Gates of their day, striking it rich in magazine contests before going on to develop software for Nintendo, Sega and Sony.