The Video Game Museum
I came across The Video Game Museum (VGM) recently while doing some research for a side project. It's a website dedicated to archiving the history of video games. I'm personally really interested in the video game preservation and archeology scene, mainly due to the sheer nostalgia I feel when remembering the past.
As the site's footer suggests, VGM has existed since 1999, using very popular techniques from those years to present its content. We have the good old
<table> layout, a reliance on static images for stylised text and an abundance of pages using
<frameset> for navigation. While these approaches are considered taboo in today's web, they work well and present a retro look and feel.
As the name suggests, VGM aims to archive content surrounding video games, especially those from the 20th century. It does this by providing a variety of sub-sites:
- Gamepics: A collection of screenshots from video games of the past.
- Game Endings: Scene-by-scene screenshots from video game endings.
- Game Reviews
- Game Systems
- Game Scans: Includes catridge, box and manual scans.
- Game Ads: Game posters and marketing material.
- Game Music
- Wallpapers, sprite sheets, music player skins and other bits and bobs.
Having a place to find screenshots of old games is extremely useful, and staring at scans of manuals, boxes and cartridges with all the textures, damage and creases visible really takes me back.
The Music section is a bit empty, but what caught my eye was the "Great Super NES Music" page. This page is by far the most memorable part of the website. Unlike the others, it's made up of a collection of images containing user reviews and screenshots from games. It reminds of reading old video game magazines and seeing what the audiences of the past felt about the game.
A lot of the time, video game preservation is focused on preserving the games itself, but their context is often lost. Preserving user reviews like these is an excellent way to keep that context.
Of course, using images to present text has its many down sides. For me personally, the font size is way too small on my 27" 1440p monitor and zooming in made it too blurry to read comfortably.
Like a lot of these older websites, the community is hard to find. The web forums are pretty dead, but the authors are active on other social networks like Twitter. The website itself was updated regularly with new content up until June 2017 since then updates have seem to have stopped entirely with no announcement as to why.
Update: VGM now has regular updates with new content! So it's no longer as inactive as when I wrote this review.
Strangely the highest online user count was hit recently on December 2017. There may be some context to the forums that makes it look less active than it is.
Overall, I've enjoyed browsing through the site. It's provided me with nostalgia for both past games and past web design. I do worry that it's on its last legs, considering the lack of new content but maybe they're just taking a break.
If I were to visit this site regularly, it would definitely need an RSS feed to notify me of new activity. Right now there doesn't seem to be much going on.
Thanks for reading.