Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice
Preserving Our Playable Past

Rob Zacny | 24 Feb 2009 09:21
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Newman goes on to explain that coin-op games are ideal for the museum setting, since the museum is not far removed from the arcade. Arcades thrive on short encounters between player and game, and an arcade game must presume minimal foreknowledge on the part of the player. Just step right up and play.

But then there are RPG's, just to use the most obviously difficult example. The gaming experience comes through scores of hours of play, often includes branching narratives and derives much of its impact from the story. It is as perfectly unsuitable for the museum as the arcade cabinet is ideal.


"What this means for us," Newman says, "is that we have to find strategies of interpreting games. The game itself is not the only means of accessing what is interesting or important about that game, and certainly playing it can only tell a part of the total story. As a result, we wouldn't rule out any means of interpreting a game, whether it be written in the form of a fan fiction or official story bible, a fan-produced walkthrough or game guide, a commentary from the developers drawn as visual artwork by passionate gamers or concept artists working on the game, or take the form of a recorded performance of play or the ability to play for oneself.

"All of these things have merit and all shed some light onto aspects of the game, and all have their place. Depending on the context of the display and the nature of the game, all may have their place in combination."

Hello, Old Friend
"Ultimately we want GOG.com to become the best place for classic PC games fans," Lukasz Kukawski explains. "Offering the games is part of that, but we also want to provide our users with anything that they find interesting; we want them to keep coming back and interacting with other fans in one big classic-games community. That's what we want GOG.com to be."

Kukawski is explaining why Good Old Games is making an effort to expand the additional content that it includes with each purchase. While some of the "extras" included with a purchase from Good Old Games are basically filler, there are a few gems like The Fallout Bible, an impressive and terrifying compendium of knowledge that includes far more information about Fallout, its development, its lore and the game itself than most rational people would ever want to know. I love it.

In some ways Good Old Games represents some of the same ghettoization of vintage gaming that Newman finds at the videogame retailer. The games are sold at bargain-bin prices, and just the name "Good Old Games" smacks of nostalgia. However, the key difference is one of attitude. The bargain bin at a retailer is a sad place full of battered boxes and cracked jewel cases, overpopulated with games that nobody wanted in the first place. Good Old Games is more about second chances, for games and gamers.

While the service's claims of offering "classic" PC games are in many cases debatable, GOG does boast a lot of cult classics that may have been unjustly overlooked in their own time. It can be a place of rediscovery and renewed debate, as is the case with games like Stonekeep or Hostile Waters, or an unadulterated trip down memory lane such as I had when I found Castles and Castles 2, two very old games that I never thought I would see again. There are also members of the PC gaming pantheon, like Fallout and Freespace 2.

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