I have fond memories of marathon gaming sessions trying to beat a sibling or friend’s high score on Defender, Frogger, and later Super Mario Brothers. I lost touch with my gaming side in the years between the NES and PS2 but was pulled back in with the gorgeous graphics and detailed storytelling of Final Fantasy X on PS2. As my kids have picked up where I left off, I now find myself fighting off vertigo from racing over bridges on Mario Kart and laughing at the names of the Skylanders characters. While working on the library’s upcoming video gaming event I’ve found myself surprisingly nostalgic over the hand cramps and blisters caused by the joystick controller for the Atari 2600 and the dreaded “Nintendo thumb.” Controllers have evolved to allow hours of game play without the need for band-aids and ice packs and the game consoles and games have increased in complexity, detail, and realism.
Video game consoles, peripherals, and games have rapidly evolved from single game, self-contained transistor consoles to consoles with computer-grade microprocessors, internet capabilities, gorgeous 3D graphics with motion sensor controllers.
Here’s a look back at the 8 generations of gaming consoles and some of the games that made them memorable.
As is the case with much media that has been produced in the past 100 years, the games for the older consoles are considered obsolescing media. Meaning that without specific equipment the games cannot be played. Other types of obsolescing media include: record albums, cassette tapes, beta-max tapes, film reels of various sizes, 8in. floppy disks, and any other analog or digital media format you can think of that is no longer in widespread use. There are many ongoing projects to digitize and provide access to materials stored on obsolescing media.
Luckily, the Internet Archive and other initiatives are preserving and providing access to the older video games. For details on the older consoles and access to the games check out the Internet Archive’s Console Living Room. You can play many of the video games via IA’s online emulator or download and play from your computer. All you need is a suitable controller that will hook up to your computer.
Don’t forget to join us Wednesday 7-9 in the first floor lobby of the Metro State Library as we get our game on and play around with consoles and games from the last four decades!
Click on the links below for more information on video game preservation.