The European Union put up $5.2 million (€4.02m, £3.6m) to fund a project called Keeping Emulation Environments Portable (KEEP) — which will develop a software program that can archive digital objects to preserve them for posterity.
Computer historian David Anderson of Portsmouth University told New Science that that it would be a "cultural catastrophe" to let old games become lost forever in the march of time. Sure, you can see a Super Famicom in a museum – but without it being able to see the games it played, it's doesn't really have much value as an artifact.
James Newman, one of the leaders of the UK's National Videogame Archive agrees. "We don't value our gaming heritage in the same way that we do books or movies - we're stuck with the model of everything being superceded," says Newman. The best-maintained collections of old games can be found on auction sites like eBay or in the hands of dedicated amateur collectors, he adds.
But it's not enough to just make it possible to play old games in a kind of arcade, says Newman. While basic games such as Space Invaders can be presented without much explanation, he explains, "more recent console games involve playing for many hundreds of hours and feature complex narratives that branch as you make choices. They can't be presented like that."
Similar projects are in development in the US with foundations like Preserving Virtual Worlds – but I have yet to see anything approaching an emulator that could play any game ever.
New software would play any videogame ever created [New Scientist]