These are words I never thought I would put in writing ever again, especially since I left World of Warcraft back near the end of "Wrath of the Lich King", but I view this as an important topic and I really wanted to bring it up. I have been following the controversey about vanilla WoW servers fairly closely on twitter, various gaming media outlets, and through our own coverage. It has caused me quite a bit of personal conflict.
On the one hand, I have a strong desire to protect artistic freedom for the game developers to do with their game how they please, and I believe developers should have full creative control over their art. On the other hand, I have to ask where this line is drawn when it comes to the gamers who have bought this game and want to preserve and play the game as it once was. It reminded me of Star Wars and how much effort was put into preserving and restoring as much of the original footage of episodes IV-VI as possible, and it got me thinking: have game developers, in their want to improve upon games as often as they have through updates and expansions, destroyed part of gaming history?
Is This Art? Is It Still Art If I Change It After You Buy It Never To Be The Same?
Since the advent of video games being able to connect to the internet, and thus, be able to be changed through internet connection to fix bugs and glitches, and add on to the game, how much of our gaming history have we been destroying simply by trying to make the game better? Don't get me wrong I appreciate what game developers do in bug fixes and adding content to the game, but imagine if tomorrow Nintendo somehow found a way to alter every single copy of the original "Super Mario Bros." and upgraded the graphics, gave it a story, improved the music, gave every single copy a full tune up to be up to date with the current times? Well, this is kind of what happens every day with the MMORPG genre, and games that need any connection to the Internet. What I have to ask, is it worth making the original build of the game inaccessible at the cost of losing a piece of that video games history?
The petition has garnered over a quarter million signatures, and is a significant chunk of potential subscribers even at the height of "World Of Warcraft's" active subscriber count. I want to see them succeed, not because I have an investment in WoW anymore, but because I think it's a good idea moving forward with video games as a whole.
Seeing As My Favorite Race Was The Orcs, Let's Look At Their Old Models
Video games currently have a preservation problem. Unlike with some art, novels, and movies, video games as an art form have fewer methods and ways of preservation. Outside of rare circumstances where the video game is so popular that it gets put on future generations of consoles, or put on PC, many video games go the way side. Original builds for the video games are lost to gamers, essentially indefinitely as time passes and especially with games constantly updating. While we all look forward to bug fixes and additional content, we sometimes quickly forget that by never being able to go back, and only ever going forward makes us lose a piece of that video games' history unless we are able to do something about it.
This requires working together with video game industry leaders, signing petitions, coming up with a solution and a plan in order to ensure video game history is preserved and enjoyed by the current and future generations of gamers. I am sure many of you who might read this are gamers, so I want you to think of your favorite video game, and what it would be like to forever lose it as you remembered it all for the sake of an update. Should we, or should we not as gamers have a right to preserve the game as we liked it, even if it means we may be stuck playing it with no one else online?
Out With the Old, In With the New, Courtesy of PC Gamer For Image
You could say video games as an art form are constantly changing and evolving, so you can not expect it to simply stay the same just because you want it to be the way it originally was. However let's call me greedy for a second or maybe say I'm feeling perhaps a little "entitled" to have things my way. I paid for the game, I liked it the way it was, but it has changed, and now I would like to go back to the version of the game as it originally was. Is there some kind of middle ground publishers, developers, and the community can come to in order to reach some kind of agreement that is mutually beneficial? If so, what can we do to make it happen?
Because we aren't just talking about our enjoyment of a particular video game, we are talking about the history of video games, and how we can preserve them for the future. For the future gamers and developers, to not just learn from, but to enjoy and perhaps even learn from what changes were made as the game progressed in its life span. I hope Blizzard becomes a trail blazer for coming up with a solution to both give gamers something they desire, and giving us a way to preserve the original games as part of gaming history.
A Game Truly Worthy of Remembrance, Image Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.
I look forward to your decision Blizzard, and to all those trying to make this happen, you have my thanks and my gratitude.