Am Sonntag, den 28.4. halte ich auf der „Ludomusicology 2019“-Konferenz in Leeds einen Vortrag über die Möglichkeiten und Schwierigkeiten der Hardware Preservation von Computer(spiel)sounds. Dabei konzentriere ich mich auf Systeme, die dadurch, dass analoge Komponenten zur Klangerzeugung verbaut wurden, nur schwer bzw. gar nicht angemessen in Emulatoren zu virtualisieren sind.
Hard Bit Rock
Challenges and Chances of Preserving Soundware
Abstract: The success story of arcade game and home computer emulators urged on the efforts of software preservation of the last three decades enormously. Big European infrastructures had been established to develop concepts for archiving historic video games for future uses (gaming) by running them on emulated hardware. After all, latest discussions came to the idea to privilege software over hardware preservation since hardware seems to produce irresolvable challenges for computer and video game preservation. But preserving hardware should be foremost an epistemological mission. From the view point of computer archaeology, game sound as the signal outcome of combined algorithmic and hardware processes turns out to be one of the most specific features of micro computer “archaeography”: It shows the time critically processes that depend strictly on the idiosyncrasies of the hardware and the same time it reveals the computer as a sonic medium acoustically. Thus the deficiency of emulation can be observed best when it comes to sound technologies for game sounds. Decades before the emergence of all-purpose FM synthesis sound cards with sampling features computer sounds had been generated in many different ways. Besides idiosyncratic technologies for digital sound generators (Programmable Sound Generators) different concepts of analog and hybrid sound generation existed. Those should not only be preserved as “structures” (e.g. as electronic circuit diagrams) but also in hardware since the “nature” of such sounds is highly unique, ephemeral, and can’t be reproduced in software properly. My talk will discuss this thesis with three examples of early arcade and computer games by showing their technological specificities that can’t be emulated digitally. After this different methods of existing and developing practices of sound hardware preservation will be introduced. They had been established beyond official practices within hacker projects.