The Video Game Source Project Seeks to Save Old Games, Beginning with Monkey Island

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The Video Game History Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and celebrating old video games. They’ve started a new initiative, the Video Game Source Project, to preserve and analyze source code and other development materials before they’re lost.

“For a video game historian, an archaeological dig through source material is the next best thing to time travel,” said Frank Cifaldi, founder and co-director, VGHF. “Unfortunately for us, most of that material – especially from our earliest days – has been lost forever. The Video Game Source Project will help us surface more of this material and normalize its use as an educational tool.”

The VGHF is accepting donated materials and knowledge from developers and publishers that can be maintained in their archives. The first game for the Source Project is the beloved LucasArts adventure series, Monkey Island; specifically The Secret of Monkey Island (1990) and its sequel, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (1991).

Monkey Island designer Ron Gilbert has been working with the VGHF to look at the original source code and discuss the game’s development. Gilbert will be joining Cifaldi for a livestreamd chat and Q&A on October 30. You can purchase tickets to virtually attend the interview, with sales going to the VGHF.

“Monkey Island is a special game to me and the creation of the SCUMM system is a large part of that. Looking at the source always jogs my memory and now gives me a chance to answer questions people didn’t even know to ask,” said Ron Gilbert. “As a developer, I see real value in preserving and learning from the work that we never imagined people in the future would care about. I’m glad the Video Game History Foundation is making this a priority while there’s still time to salvage history that’s becoming scarcer by the day.”

Future projects for the VGHF include abandoned Sega hardware from the 90s, source material from a beloved 16-bit RPG, and an unreleased follow-up to an arcade classic. Analysis and content will be released by the VGHF in the coming months.