Though When talking about the National Library, many people think exclusively of books and, in any case, in other types of printed publications, in reality its scope of action and conservation is much broader, since its objective in this regard is to become a guarantor of the persistence of cultural heritage, mainly that produced in our country, Of course, but also of someone who, even having other origins, has arrived in Spain and has had a mark on our society and our culture.
However, What is culture? Of course there is no single and sustained interpretation over time. For example, there are those who consider that electronic music does not have an artistic component and that it does not deserve to be considered culture, but the same thing happened at the time with the music of, for example, Elvis Presley or The Beatles. And for decades, and today there is still discussion about it, there are those who question whether the video game is culture or simply entertainment. Fortunately, the National Library seems to opt for the first option.
The bad thing is that it has not always been this way, and there was a golden age in Spain, mainly concentrated in the second half of the eighties, in which video game production in our country was historic. Not only were hundreds of games developed, but the quality of many of them was remarkable. Without a doubt, we must mention La Abadía del Crimen, inspired by the novel El Nombre de la Rosa, by Umberto Eco, considered by many to be the best video game developed in Spain, but we must not forget many others, such as Game Over, Freddy Hardest or the priceless Don Quixote, to give a small example.
In those times, the National Library did not seem too interested in collecting these creations and, worse yet, legal deposit didn’t turn out to be too effective either. Consequently, as you can imagine, the National Library does not have a complete collection of the huge number of games that were developed and / or distributed in Spain in the times when Spectrum, Amstrad, Commodore and MSX were magic words for many children and youth of that time.
The good news is that, better late than never, The National Library has been working for a long time to fill this lack. Under the management of Ana Santos Aramburo, current director of the entity, since March of last year meetings have been held with associations of the Spanish video game sector in which AEVI (Spanish Association of Videogames), AUIC (Association of Computer Users have participated Clásica) and DEV (Spanish Association of Companies Producing and Developing Videogames and Entertainment Software) to cover a hole that began to open in the eighties.
During these months, in which the National Library has had the collaboration of said associations, work has been done on the preparation of a catalog that compiles all the production of Spanish videogames. The objective is to cross that list with that of the titles already deposited in the Library and, in this way, to know which titles are missing, in order to be able to work towards achieving them.
Now, after almost a year of work, the National Library has published the list “SPANISH VIDEO GAMES THAT ARE NOT IN THE BNE COLLECTIONS”, an Excel sheet of 6,310 rows in which we find both games produced in Spain and others that, despite having their origin in other countries, had a presence in ours (After Burner, Gauntlet, Test Drive or Tetris, to give a few examples). For each one of them, the platform (MSX, Spectrum, etc.) is specified as well as the support, in the cases in which the BNE has such information.
The rationale for this publication is clear and is made explicit in the press release published in this regard: encourage associations and individuals to donate to the National Library copies of these video games as the first phase to ensure preservation. The objective is to create a complete and accessible collection for all citizens of these titles.
If, either out of memory or curiosity, you are a lover of retrocomputing, most likely you have already thought about the Hundreds of web pages that collect roms for many of the games listed of the National Library. And yes, it is true that they can be found there, but what the Library intends is not only to preserve the code, but also all the elements around it: the physical support, the materials that accompanied it and others. And, for example, some of Alfonso Azpiri’s covers are also collector’s items.
The objective of the National Library is to preserve the games as they were published at the time and, personally, it seems to me a laudable project. Due to life circumstances, over the years I was getting rid of computers, games, books, magazines and other memories of those times but, had I kept any of the games on the list, I would not hesitate to collaborate in the creation of this background. After all, videogames are culture, and culture must be preserved.