video games

Nintendo Power coming to an end

Nintendo Power (1st Issue), Summer, 1988.

I’m sure there of those of you for which this will be old news. Others will have no idea what this is about, and even a few understand, but might not care. Nintendo power, one of the longest-running magazines in the country, is coming to an end.

Arstechnica summarized the magazine’s popularity and rise:

Nintendo Power is one of the longest-running game magazines in the country, having been published continuously since the summer of 1988, when it started as a bi-monthly outgrowth of the previous Nintendo Fun Club newsletter. the magazine went monthly in 1990, with Nintendo producing articles that were often just thinly veiled marketing copy through late 2007, when it started contracting the brand out for a more independent angle from tech-and-game-focused Future Publishing.

This comes to no surprise, as the past decade has seen a shift from print to web/video streaming for many of the country’s video gaming magazines. Although gaming is on the rise with additional demographics, the way in which people are consuming video game journalism has taken a turn for the digital. Sadly, Nintendo Power has no expectations of moving to a digital format despite ending their print subscriptions.

When my friends and I lavished over each other’s Nintendo products as children, Nintendo Power was the Bible that kept us swooning. Filled with holiday wish-list-worthy advertisements, reviews, teasers, cartoons, and cheats, it kept us believing that we could become the best Nintendo gamer not only in our neighborhood, but in the world.

Where will runs of Nintendo Power be archived? Will they remain triumphant on the antiquarian resale circuit? Where will this generation of gamers go for their news and reviews? With so many consoles to choose from, who knowns if a giant like NP will emerge…

Let your Geek Archivist flag fly!

Recently, the source code for the popular, nay INLFUENTIAL video game Prince of Persia was ‘found’ by its creator Jordan Mechner and posted on GitHub, now available for public access and use. But why is this so important? We can still play the game, remakes have been created, and very few of us would even recognize the code if we fell over it. According to Mechner, who is a programmer-not an Archivist, providing access to the original is the key to an object’s sustainability in this world of technological evolution:

[on needing an original musical score] You don’t, if all you want is to listen and enjoy the music. But to a pianist performing the piece, or a composer who wants to study it or arrange it for different instruments, the original score is valuable.

It’s possible, up to a point, to reverse-engineer new source code from a published video game, much as a capable musician can transcribe a musical score from listening to a performance. But in both cases, there’s no substitute for the original document as a direct line to the creator’s intentions and work process. As such, it has both practical and historical value, to the small subset of the game-playing/music-listening community that cares.

Just as the Archival community gradually embraces and incorporates linked data, online finding aids, and digital exhibits into their everyday workflow, they understand that maintaining the life of the original item-that very origin of idea-is essential to the longevity of any other surrogate.