On the Importance of Emulators

02/03/19

The protagonist of Ready Player One, Wade Watts, reveres the classics, when though they “were outdated digital dinosaurs that became museum pieces long before [he] was born.” (Cline 13) However, he is too poor to be able to afford the antique consoles these games were originally made for and probably would not have the same luck finding them in the trash the way he did his old, refurbished laptop. How is he able to play them? By booting up an emulator.

As a society, we tend to disregard the importance of emulators or belittle them for poor performance… But they play a critical role in preserving the history of video games. “Getting old Atari, Nintendo, and Sega games working on your computer, while legally complicated, helps ensure that even the most obscure titles stay alive in some form.” (Pot) Like my colleague Sean Estep stated, “Older games are important legacies in gaming.”

The existence of emulators has especially impacted us, the students taking this class. Without emulators, we wouldn’t be able to play many the earliest games we discuss in class. Even if we had one of every console ever made, not everyone would be able to play these games because there are too many and there is just not enough time in the semester. Thanks to emulators, we can play games listed on the schedule at our leisure and talk about our individual play experience in class.

Not everyone loves classic games like Wade does. Everyone has different preferences. However, some old games really resonate with people. Like Oregon Trail, for example... A mmphosis related on the Applefritter website “[Oregon Trail] entertained a ten-year-old for way longer than I thought they would want to be playing a 25+ year old game… Go figure.” (Loguidice & Barton 38) This reminded me on all the time I had spent playing Oregon Trail growing up and immediately looked up an emulator for it, which is linked below. Go try it for yourself and see if you like it enough to play from start to finish.

    Sources:
    • https://classicreload.com/oregon-trail.html
    • https://www.howtogeek.com/347530/the-importance-of-emulation-for-games-preservation/
    • https://kotaku.com/in-defense-of-roms-a-solution-to-dying-games-and-broke-1828340811