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April 2017 Retro Gaming Article


April 22, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

There will always be more Stadium Events cartridges in landfills than trophy cases

video game preservation
Video game preservation can be as simple as not tossing something into a dumpster, but all too often people take that easy option.
Knowledge is one of the key factors to preservation. That isn't to say you need a degree in rocket science or experience curating for the Smithsonian. The requisite knowledge can be as simple as knowing not to throw gaming items into the trash. People tend to live in the present and only show concern for things in their immediate vicinity.

Hence the "not in my backyard" mantra is a mentality that rarely seems to manifest in the truth that "it" will always be in "someone's backyard". This is easily combined with mankind's ability to be content as long as we have no direct knowledge of travesties. For example, the majority of video game's history has already been relegated to landfills by owners, businesses and manufacturers. Yes, a majority of it!

Most people argue that can't be true and cite how easy it is to find Combat or SMB/Duck Hunt carts. Sure, a few decades ago, they were everywhere. Look around now. When you find them, you may be surprised they are no longer 50¢!

Video Game Preservation Isn't Solely for Rare Items

Atari's Combat As gamers we'd never throw an NES Stadium Events cartridge in the trash, but your father may not know it's value. Worse still, he probably won't call you when he finds your old copy in the attic... and into the trash it goes. Or maybe you are certain you randomly bought a copy back in the 80's only to discover he sold it for $3 at last Summer's yard sale. Whoops.

The truth is, Stadium Events is a terrible game and most copies were thrown away in disgust shortly after purchase.

But preservation shouldn't be relegated only to rare items. ALL gaming artifacts are valuable. Yes, ALL of them including your broken N64 and that Atari joystick that no longer "moves left."

When I was a kid there were businesses called repair shops. They fixed things. All things. You can still get your car fixed or have a leaky roof repaired, but what about your TV, sofa, or blender? When the TV stops working, into the trash it goes along with everything else. TV repair shops were easily found in my youth, but no more. In fact, most electronics are deemed unrepairable.

We live in a disposable society that doesn't value material things once they are no longer new. And when they are broken, they become an embarrassment - one worth disposing of quickly. Enter the dumpster and the ease with which deposited items disappear forever... unless you visit the local landfill.

Video Game Preservation Is Easy And Important

I'm not suggesting you park your car outside and turn your garage into a warehouse for broken gaming artifacts. All I ask is that you not throw them away. I know how easy it is to toss something into the trash, but don't. The spring on that old arcade button can be replaced. The motherboard in your Atari 7800 can be re-capped. You may not know how to do these things, but I assure you someone out there does and they'll be glad to repurpose your old stuff!

Super Mario Bros / duck Hunt game for NES Life would be grand if everything was easy. Alas, that's not the case. That old coat that no longer fits you slides so easily into the trash, but somewhere out there is a person who'd love to have that coat. The same is true of video game items. What seems like trash to you will likely be gold to someone else. We're all different people. Some of us love shiny new things. Others like old dusty things.

Here's the real reason video game preservation is so vital. These items are finite. No longer in production. Many of the companies that made amazing games and hardware are now defunct. Their once grand creations often still function, but so many have fallen to the fate of the uninformed and been thrown away.

For every Atari 2600 you find at a yard sale, thousands have been thrown away. Even Blockbuster and Funcoland threw away most of the games they formerly rented or sold. The ugly truth is the majority of the video game industry's history was thrown away long ago! Even if it doesn't garner top-dollar, items from the 80s and 90s have tremendous historical value and should be cherished.

No one wanted the games - they seemed so common and plentiful at the time - and they wound up in landfills. Decades later we are outraged and can't believe someone would throw away a video game. Welcome to the disposable world. Nothing is sacred and everything is easily removed to a landfill. How many SMB/Duck Hunt carts have you seen lately? Remember how easy it was to find Atari's Combat cart at 80's yard sales?

Today, GameStop still fills it's dumpsters with gaming items from packaging and manuals to out-dated store displays and old product (games!). It's just trash to them and it's easier to have it carted to a landfill than to find someone to buy it. They take the easy route without regard for how it effects their own industry!

Decades from now, game collectors may have the same disdain for how our modern games are treated. It's a cycle and it will continue to be repeated until those who play games also realize the importance of them. We love playing games, but that passion goes beyond the experience itself. There's much more joy in gaming than simply having a controller in hand.

Sometimes we need to put down the controller and realize the amazing aspects of the entire gaming experience. Else we'll continue to find interest in landfill excavations as a means of exploring our vibrant history!

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