The problem with preservation

“’I am Ozymandias,’ sayeth the stone,

‘the king of kings; this mighty city shows,

the wonders of my hand!’ The city’s gone,

naught but the leg remaining to disclose

the site of this forgotten Babylon.”

 

Every fan of art has seen the Mona Lisa, or at least a very accurate copy of it. Every film buff has seen “Citizen Kane.” Every serious fan of music has heard the works of Bach and Beethoven, every literary expert is familiar with the works of Shakespeare and every game enthusiast has played through “Chrono Trigger” — hopefully.

Famous works like these, of any medium, have been passed down from generation to generation, sometimes over hundreds or thousands of years. They illuminate different times and different cultures and serve as a valuable asset to the world’s culture.

But for every classic passed down, many, many more are lost to the ages and forgotten in time. Until it was released on Steam only about a month ago, “System Shock 2” suffered this fate for over a decade.

For any medium, this phenomenon is disastrous, as these artistic works are bridges to different eras and times. They influence the art of today and tomorrow, just as they did in the past.

This problem has escalated recently with the advent of Digital Rights Management, also known by its more dreaded acronym, “DRM.” DRM utilizes many different methods, from constant Internet connections (like in “SimCity”) to restrictions on how many computers the work can be installed on. This is done to authenticate digital films, games, books and others to help ward off piracy, but at what cost?

DRM hinders artistic preservation in tons and tons of ways. If, 20 years from now, a person wanted to play “Diablo III,” they wouldn’t be able to unless Blizzard’s servers were still up, which grows more unlikely as time goes on.

But then again, this is a problem that only grows more complicated as the world struggles to make these works profitable in a digital age. A concrete solution won’t come for a very long time.

So if you find a gap in your gaming schedule — which shouldn’t be an issue considering how little games come out in the summer — play through a classic you’ve never played before. Like film and music, gaming’s history is important, and it’s vital that we keep it alive, not only for our sake, but for future generations to come.

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