ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Archive for November, 2014

Gamepads! —

A week into the explosion of the Internet Arcade, with what has now been millions of visitors to the Archive as a result, and we’re getting pretty far down the “what still confounds people” realm. As someone who worked in tech support as his first “real” job at Psygnosis, (shout out to Chris Caprio and […]

Before It All Arrives —

The numbers are a little hard to calculate, because the Internet Archive, heroes to the core, do not keep logs for pretty much any time at all. But using a few methods, comparing some general graphs, and doing math, the admins handed me an estimate of how many people have played video games at the […]

The Internet Arcade: And Where Are You? —

Yes, that’s right, three Internet Arcade posts in a row. I usually like to mix things up, but the world is very quickly going nuts over the introduction of the Arcade. Hundreds of thousands of people have played the games in it, it’s been featured in dozens of sites, and it’s even hit TV news in a […]

So, You Found the Internet Arcade —

Woo hoo. Soon after my initial announcement on this weblog, a few tweets of the posting, followed by some press attention, means tens of thousands of people have now visited the Internet Arcade. Many are happy. A goodly amount are stunned. A few are annoyed and wondering why it “doesn’t work”. This quick post from […]

The Internet Arcade —

When work began on JSMESS a couple years ago, I knew that it was probably somewhat easy to do all this conversion work for MAME (the arcade side) as it was for MESS (the computer and console side). I specifically chose not to, because I was not interested in a pile of work just to make another game platform. This was about software history, and it’s not that hard to get MAME up and running for the game or games you want to play.

Over the next few years, we got JSMESS working, and working pretty darn well – in a lot of cases, you can boot into a wide range of computers in your browser and it’s working great. There’s hiccups here and there, and we have work left to clean it up, but on the whole.. the proof exists. You can browse the historical software collection and the software library and wow, thousands of programs instantly there!

So, earlier this year, I decided to futz around with our build environment (which, it must be absolutely stressed, the other JSMESS team members built, not me), just to ask the question, “And how hard would it be to build arcade games, anyway?“.

It turned out to be easy. Very, very easy.

Months of testing, refinement, improvements and efforts, and this week I have announced the result: The Internet Arcade.


Of the roughly 900 arcade games (yes, nine hundred arcade games) up there, some are in pretty weird shape – vector games are an issue, scaling is broken for some, and some have control mechanisms that are just not going to translate to a keyboard or even a joypad.

But damn if so many are good enough. More than good enough. In the right browser, on a speedy machine, it almost feels perfect. The usual debates about the “realness” of emulation come into play, but it works.

This is the week it’s been dropped. Not a huge announcement (unless you count this weblog entry), no parties or fanfare beyond, yes. There it is:

So then begins the question that I ask myself more and more in this endeavor: Now What?

Obviously, a lot of people are going to migrate to games they recognize and ones that they may not have played in years. Games are good to play at especially if you are earning a fortune out of it, playing in a top rated casino will give you a feeling of satisfaction and greatness. They’ll do a few rounds, probably get their asses kicked, smile, and go back to their news sites.

A few more, I hope, will go towards games they’ve never heard of, with rules they have to suss out, and maybe more people will play some of these arcades in the coming months than the games ever saw in their “real” lifetimes.

And my hope is that a handful, a probably tiny percentage, will begin plotting out ways to use this stuff in research, in writing, and remixing these old games into understanding their contexts. Time will tell.

Until then, game is on.