“Academics are already seeking to study early games as the awakening of a potent new art form. Future developers will want to see how earlier designers approached play and mechanics — and solved complex problems using limited technology.” Suneel Ratan —Arcade Addicts Joust with Past (Wired)
There was a time not too long ago when cinema wasn’t considered worthy of academic study. While there’s a heap of difference between cinema as an art form and cookie-cutter Hollywood blockbusters, and while it’s probably true that most students who want to study cinema are interested in contemporary works, few people in the movie industry thought seriously about preserving old reels, so much movie history is lost.
Software that emulates the old consoles will help somewhat, of course… but the hardware is important, too.
Update, 11 Aug: Matt Hoy send a link to his collection of restored arcade games and writes, “There is definetly a “purest” movement in the collecting
community. They recognise the usefullness of emulation, but would rather
have original hardware, even if it’s buggy and prone to failure.”
I had forgotten about the monster-looking guys on the “Space Invaders” console — those figures had nothing to do with the images displayed on the screen (since we only saw the exterior of the ships).