We Need Public Gaming Libraries ASAP!

The lawsuit Nintendo of America filed against LoveROMS and LoveRetro — both sites owned by the same individual — is simultaneously expected and disheartening. We all knew this day would come, obviously, but I think we all feared it for different reasons. No matter what, a lot of gamers are going to be left out in the cold on this one.

Nintendo has the right to do what they want and they’re flexing that right now with the lawsuit. Nobody wants to be the victim of theft especially when it threatens one’s livelihood. It’s important to remember in times like these that projected loss of a million dollars can easily result in the termination of ten employees. Whether you think they picked the wrong company to work for or not, the halting of ten people’s livelihoods would arguably be at the fault of the pirates.

Despite this, a lot of people — myself included — would argue that the general public has seen a positive impact from the availability of ROMs. Companies might lose a sliver of projected revenue but I know a lot of adults and young people who have given themselves an accurate education of the previous gaming landscape using ROMs as their base. Indie devs can make brand new games using existing assets, mechanics and fan bases. At any point in time, people who aren’t collects can briefly experience the thrills of a time once prior by playing classic games. In every way, ROMs have improved the gaming landscape.

So what are we suppose to do, pretend we never once knew the convenience ROMs brought us? I don’t think that’s right, dude. ROM distribution site might enable pirates but also recycle lost content. They spark rediscovery for future generations. For everything they’ve brought us, we can’t turn back on ROMs forever.

I propose we build public gaming libraries and negotiate with developers new ways of distributing free, non-commercial general public licenses (GPL) for the educational and limited recreational use of retro games. We should create new branches of public service that negotiate GPL that take factors like age and relevancy into consideration. These companies have marketed to us our entire lives but if we find a way to play the games they don’t sell anymore, we’re the criminals? Come on now, that ain’t right. The publishers and consumers need to come to a consensus because we both have differing ideals of what’s fair. 

I’ve never written a bill before or gotten my feet wet in politics at all but this issue has been bugging me ever since I was a kid.

I’ve just become hyper aware that this isn’t an opinion piece anymore, rather a manifesto.

I’m not entirely sure how to wrap this one up without making it sound like I’m content. I’m not and I know what to do from here. If you’d like to join me in scouting out some ideas on how to realign gamers with retro media in a constructive way please let me know. This isn’t going to be the last time a topic of this nature will come up and I don’t want to over look it any more.

Guess I’ll pull a cr1t1c4l on this one and just say… see ya.

Shouts to Hank Green for making awesome content and helping the world out. Lately I’ve been watching his videos on hankschannel where he’s known for voicing his macro concerns in a useful way. I think I might be approaching this topic using what I would consider his voice so I’m greatly appreciative for the… support? What ever something like that would be. Thanks, Hank.

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