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One of my very first pets was a Tamagotchi, a tiny, digital creature that lived in a plastic keychain. It’s been nearly two decades since I held it in my hand, but recently, I found an opportunity to hatch another critter and feed it pixelated snacks. Tamagotchi is one of dozens of retro handheld games that the Internet Archive recently uploaded to its free digital library, in emulated versions that allow for authentic player experiences on modern computers.
Although dubbed “Handheld History,” the collection of over 70 games includes emulations of both handheld game consoles and tabletop machines. They date from the ’70s through the ’90s, offering a nostalgic trip through some of the greatest hits of gaming history, including Coleco’s Frogger and Donkey Kong, Tiger Electronic’s Mortal Kombat and Sonic the Hedgehog, and even Texas Instruments’ Speak & Spell. (This last game, as the name implies, aimed to teach children how to pronounce and spell words.) Each is played by pressing buttons on your keyboard that correspond to the original controls.
While many of these games still exist in their original, clunky form, the consoles themselves are disappearing. Documenting and researching them now is a vital act of cultural preservation, as archivist Jason Scott writes. For that reason, the Internet Archive’s collection presents the emulations with photographs of their original systems and, when possible, digitized versions of their instruction manuals.
Handheld History will continue to grow, and is the result of laborious work by developers for the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME), which has for years been recreating the hardware of arcade games for more modern platforms. Scott describes the emulation process for the Internet Archive’s blog, explaining how the chips from a circuit board can typically be read without destroying the system, and data can be pulled and copied to produce emulations.
But sometimes, the process to extract information from LCD game machines is destructive. One developer, Sean Riddle, has dedicated himself to, in his words, “decapping or deglobbing the chips and taking pictures of them and the displays. I’m the guy with the blowtorch and sulfuric acid!” he told Hyperallergic. Many LCD games, he explained, run on a simple four-bit microcontroller from the ’80s, which is mounted directly onto a circuit board. He has to clean the circuits using destructive measures before documenting the components carefully; a composite picture is then sent to someone at MAME who works to engineer an emulation. Although that particular game is lost, its information can be made available to countless people in a nearly identical form.
Of course, some of the original gaming experience is also lost when you play their emulations. Developers can’t replicate the feel of plastic, sticky buttons, and the controls on a computer are slightly more streamlined. The Tamagotchi, for instance, had a reset switch you had to poke with a sharp tool; now, you can simply refresh your browser page. Still, I’m happy for the chance to appreciate its limited interface after all these years, and to hear my pet’s high-pitched shrill when it’s time to wipe its digital dung.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…