Ah MS-DOS games on Twitter, we have known you only so briefly. After a bit of excitement over the revelation that you can not only retweet but also play old-school MS-DOS games right from inside a Tweet, it seems that the fun and games are over. At the expense of getting branded as a kill joy, Twitter pulled the plug on the Internet Archives’ latest experiment. That said, it is quite understandable considering it violated Twitter’s rules, but it’s still a downer that one of the easiest ways for a classic game to go viral is now off limits.
The Internet Archive, aside from safeguarding historical web pages, has also been actively keeping and “restoring” old MS-DOS and arcade games, making these decades old titles available to today’s generation, requiring nothing more than a modern web browser. The gaming industry has long been criticized for being very poor curators of its own history, so this mission pretty much addresses that character flaw.
The Archive’s latest project was to use the EM-DOSBOX emulator to make a variety of MS-DOS games playable inside a web browser as well. But more than that, it seems that it was possible to also embed these games inside tweets and can even be played right then and there, without the need to open a new browser window or tab. More than just a simple convenience,this feature could have very well allowed these games to enjoy a type of viral marketing that simply wasn’t even possible when the games were first launched.
Sadly, this little adventure ran afoul of Twitter’s rules of engagement for its Twitter Cards. To be specific, Twitter disallows “end-to-end interactive experiences” inside an audio or video player and even pinpionts games as a type of prohibited content. Naturally, Twitter switched off these emulated games, perhaps to the disappointment of those planning to capitalize on this newfound power.
All is not lost, however. The MS-DOS games still do exist and can still be played from any browser directly from the Internet Archive’s catalog. The only thing that has really changed is that you can’t embed and play them inside tweets anymore, but you’re still free to tweet about them and link to them. It just won’t be as exciting.