For over 20 years, Frank Cifaldi has made it his mission to preserve as much gaming history as possible. At first, Frank started ripping cartridge-based games. That process turned into a website called Lost Levels, which sought to obtain and preserve unreleased video games. Now, Frank has taken this goal a step further by launching the Video Game History Foundation. The group, made up of Frank and four founding board members, are “dedicated to cataloging, digitizing, and preserving the history of video games.” Frank’s rationale is that while games are becoming more and more ingrained into society, very few outlets are interesting in preserving the entire history of games - and not just Donkey Kong and Space Invaders.
According to the Foundation’s website, “without an organized effort to collect, document, and preserve these materials, there is a very real danger of losing them forever.” The group’s end goal is to create a searchable, organized, always-online archive of verified, high-quality video game material accessible to researchers and historians as an educational resource. While there aren’t any plans for a physical location for these materials to be housed, one might assume that, should the project grow exponentially, a central location wouldn’t be out of the question. As Cifaldi says on the group’s Patreon page, “We're hoping this is merely the humble start to what will become a larger organization. I want to grow the Foundation into something that lives well beyond my lifetime and affects some real change in the way that the industry treats its past.”
What exactly is the Video Game History Foundation looking for? According to the website, it’s searching for:
- High-resolution, lossless scans of game packaging and documentation.
- Playable binary code that has been verified as clean and untainted.
- Marketing and PR material, including press kits, “preview” screenshots of games, trailers, vintage slides, and advertisements.
- Periodicals, newsletters, and other printed resources.
- Internal documentation, notes, source code and assets, and related materials from game creators and publishers that offer behind-the-scenes insight into how games were made and sold.
- Digitized video, including sales videos that were never before available to the public.
That being said, if you’re looking to donate some of your awesome gaming artifacts, make sure it’s on storage that’s going to survive, meaning hard drives, SSDs, and flash drives only (no CD-ROMs, floppy disks, or the like.)
To support the Video Game History Foundation, you can either fill out a donation form on the group’s website or support them on Patreon. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Twitch.