Daily Archives: May 5, 2008

Is “you need to play it on the original system” the new “you need to see it on the big screen?”

I saw a post over at Cyberzel’s Mind discussing, “Game Preservation and it got me thinking about the topic. With the popularity of the new console’s online stores and emulation of older consoles, is it ok to play emulators?

I’ve long played Nintendo games on my computer and I have played Super Mario Bros.3 and Legend of Zelda Link to the Past on my X-Box. I never really thought about emulation and I never had any qualms about emulation until recently. I’m going to be teaching a videogame course next semester and I found myself buying an Atari 2600 so that my students could play the games on the original system — particularly paddle games like Pong or Warlords.

Not only did I buy a 2600, I actually bought 2 since the first one I bought didn’t work (It did come with a bunch of games in the boxes though so that was pretty cool). So clearly I have some kind of thought process going on which says something akin to “these damn kids these day and their emulators! Why back in my day we had cartridges and our controllers only had one button and that’s the way we liked it!” On some level I’m saying, “It is ok for me to play old games on an emulator because I know what it was like to play them on the original machine. You need to learn what it is like to play the real thing!”

It is more nuanced than that though since if there was an easy way to use a 2600 controller on modern computers then I would do it(there was a 2600 to USB adapter but it doesn’t seem to be sold any more). So is the actual console irrelevant and the controller is actually the important part? Perhaps for me at least.

Of course that doesn’t explain why I don’t want to buy one of those Flashback units…