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Understanding the challenge facing Japan's game preservationists

"The way of thinking, the way of living, the way things last, the cycle of their lives here is very different. You build a house in Japan, thirty years after, you need to destroy it and make a new one."

Japan is a nation synonymous with video games, and the country is home to some of the biggest games companies in the world. 

Sony, Nintendo, Capcom, Square Enix, Bandai Namco: the list goes on and on, but despite being so ingrained in video game history, the region's approach to preservation is surprisingly nonchalant. 

According to a recent Kotaku feature, the cultural differences present in Japan mean people simply aren't concerned with keeping or cataloguing things. It's nothing personal, just a different way of life. 

"In Japan, you don’t keep things," explains French national Joseph Redon, one of the driving forces behind the country's Game Preservation Society

"It's a cultural difference, you see. Today, we have a typhoon. I felt an earthquake just a few minutes ago. You didn’t? Very small. But this country is a rock above the sea. It’s full of calamities. 

"The way of thinking, the way of living, the way things last, the cycle of their lives here is very different. You build a house in Japan, thirty years after, you need to destroy it and make a new one."

As the name suggests, the Games Preservation Society is a grassroots initiative that aims to do exactly that: preserve and catalogue Japan's video game heritage. The fledgling organisation was only founded in 2011, and is headquartered in a quiet suburb of Tokyo.

The challenge facing Redon and the society's other members is astronomical. The Frenchman claims "almost nothing is left," but he's prepared to play the long game in the hopes of pulling many a forgotten digital heirloom back from the brink. 

Be sure to check out the full Kotaku article to find out how the Games Preservation Society plans to save Japan's games. It's well worth your time.

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