Software emulation is a digital preservation strategy to allow access to vintage software objects. The Play it Again project is seeking to do this for video games from the 80s and 90s, in particular games developed in Australian on now obsolete systems including Windows 98, Gameboy and Amiga.
AARNet is a partner in this project lead by Professor Melanie Swalwell at Swinburne University along with ACMI and RMIT. Building on previous efforts to discover, recover and preserve vintage games the project aims to deploy Emulation as a Service Infrastructure (EaaSI) to enable games to be played in the cloud via a web browser.
According to the project’s digital archivist Cynde Moya, “EaaS gathers together open-source operating system emulators in one tool. It moves the required expertise from each end user having to figure out how to install each individual emulator on their own computer, to having a tool which already has multiple environments installed. The end user’s challenge is now figuring out how to use old operating systems.”
Cynde has undertaken the conservation work to extract games from their original carriers such as floppy disk using tools including Kryoflux for disk imaging. She is then deploying them into the Emulation environment where they can be played. Cynde has captured some of her results so far and posted a selection of videos.
Game titles include sports games like Aussie Rules Footy for NES from 1991, war games including Decisive Battles of World War II: Ardennes Offensive from 1996 for PC and movie spin-offs such as the Gameboy title The Lion King: Simba’s Mighty Adventure from 2000.
There is application for EaaSI beyond games, with interest from the archives and research communities. The Play it Again team are working with the Emulation as a Service Infrastructure project led by the Software Preservation Network to bring this digital preservation capability to Australia.
To find out more about the Play it Again project and/or Emulation as a Service Infrastructure, please contact us.
Author: Adam Bell, AARNet Manager, Cultural Outreach