[-empyre-] Games, histories and preservation

Julian Oliver julian at selectparks.net
Mon Mar 17 23:10:51 EST 2008

..on or around Sun, Mar 16, 2008 at 09:47:06PM -0700, Jason Nelson said:
> I guess I dont really care about traditional ideas of archiving or art
>   collecting. The notion of original is terribly artificial. It would seem
>   a great archive of digital artwork would show the changes/progressions
>   and transformations of the artwork. 
>   And maybe one of the stumbling blocks to archiving digital art, is its
>   lack of general acceptance or popularity.
>   Which, bringing this back to games, is why games are so powerful.
>   I often get hits, loading external movie clips, for game, game, game and again game
>   from people's hard drives.  so if my house burns down and the host provider explodes
>   they will still have a copy floating around....

in the context of archiving videogames, it is difficult to argue that a
separation of the physical interface from the software itself will come
without great cultural cost over time. nonetheless, it may be the only
feasible solution given the practical difficulties of archiving and
maintaining game hardware.

there is, after all, no such thing as 'digital art', as a purely
electronically contained cultural object: there will never be a wholly
digital artwork because to engage with it would require we are ourselves
entirely digital.

like so-called digital art, the hardware on which videogames depend
serves to shape matter: it shapes photons for our eyes and modulates
air-pressure for our ears. without this there would be no experience of
a game. moreso the combination of hardware mechanics and software events
shape our bodies little by little through demanding new patterns of
muscular contraction and expansion. 

for this reason i've always thought there was something honest about the
old term 'game system'; it confesses the inescapable dependence on the
corporeal dimension.

videogames are not so much artefacts as a highly refined set of
conditions distributed between hardware and software such that a certain
scope of experiences might result during interaction. the relative
portability of the software part of contemporary PC videogames has led
to the mistaken idea that we can demote the vital importance of the
hardware in the relation. while generic compared to the game systems of
20 years ago, the PC's we use now are still rich in particularities that
change the way we play and feel about video games.

the sound, weight and distribution of the keys on my joystick while
playing SpeedBall on my Amiga was an intrinsic part of the game - as an
experience. playing SpeedBall with a keyboard in an emulator under Linux
on my Thinkpad is like looking at a video of a dead pet.


julian oliver
messages containing HTML will not be read.

More information about the empyre mailing list