Internet Arcade puts 900 old-school games in your browser

Let's say you're a gamer who's trying to dig deeper into gaming culture's roots. You've heard about these titles that have broken records, expectations, paradigms, and genres. Or maybe you're just really curious how those games of the past played out. Suffice it to say, you'd be out of luck if you wanted to go beyond a simple book or video hearsay. That is, until now. Thanks to the Internet Archive, you can now test, play, and maybe even enjoy a shockingly huge library of 900 arcade games right in your web browser.

Game emulation is nothing new, but never before has there been such a coverage of games reaching as far back as the early days of arcade boxes, which have become endangered species or even extinct in some parts of the globe. Technologically speaking, all the pieces to make this possible have already been in place. MAME, the Multi Arcade Machine Emulator, has long been in existence. It gave birth to MESS, the Multi Engine Super System, which in turn lead to JSMESS, a Javascript-based implementation of MESS that worked in web browsers which, almost coming full circle, includes JSMAME, which powers the Internet Arcade.

The Arcade, which is hosted in that bastion of Internet history, the Internet Archive, boasts of a gigantic collection of games of every genre that existed in arcades from the 1970's to the 1980's. Of course, don't expect the latest titles, which are naturally safeguarded by copyright and IP laws. But you do have some familiar titles like Street Fighter II, Pac-man, or Bionic Commando. But more than just the familiar ones, the Arcade also invites all gamers of all ages and proclivities to go try out even the obscure or weird ones, for the sake of living out the old glory days or for discovering new worlds.

Of course, some might question the worth of such an endeavor beyond mere nostalgia. Actually, this effort might be more important than ever before. Modern society is moving, albeit sometimes slowly, towards seeing games as more than just entertainment but even as expressions of art. And like the rest of art, having a clear memory of its history can help not only understand the past but even help shape the future. Unfortunately, we haven't been good curators of that piece of gaming history, so it's efforts like this that will help the gaming community remember its past well, even and especially beyond this current generation.

SOURCE: Jason Scott, The Internet Arcade