The greatest lie of the information age is that ‘the internet never forgets’ – it has a memory like a sieve, and we’re losing games every second, along with people’s records of them. The Lost Histories Jam on Itch (run by Emilie “Coleo Kin” Reed) is about preserving the little things that nobody paid much attention to. A collection of stories, zines, interactive essays and even an album telling the tales nobody else did. There’s a Let’s Play of Catz 5, a brief history of ‘perverted’ Dragon Warrior hacks, the history of intentionally awful Mario fan-games and even an RPG Maker community dictionary from TheCatamites.
For me, the most interesting of the Lost Histories recorded here is TheCatamites’s guide to the RPG Maker forums, circa 2005. Presented in the form of a dictionary, it includes accepted philosophies of early indie RPG design, anecdotes on the personages of the boards and even some bizarre asides. Why were the community awards named after a secondary character from anime Rurouni Kenshin? Nobody knows. A lot has changed in those fourteen years, including a complete reversal of opinions on whether you can or should sell RPG Maker projects. I’m glad they did – we wouldn’t have Fear & Hunger otherwise.
The Mario Fangame Myth by Shadsy also makes for a fascinating read. As someone who got their first paid writing work (even if it was only a pittance) covering the weird world of Mario fan-games, it strikes a note for me to hear stories from within the scene. In this case, it’s a deep dive on the Waligie series, a collection of intentionally trashy games that would likely be classified as interactive shitposts nowadays. It’s a celebration of outsider art cobbled together from scavenged pieces of a massive franchise. Plus, Mario Fan Games Galaxy is still kicking to this day.
It’s worth picking through these stories, and remembering what you can. The internet will eventually forget, but you might be able to share the tale with someone else, someday. I think that asesino, a short interactive story by fotocopiadora about virtual violence and the strange other-worlds we inhabit will stick with me a while. Just remember to turn your speakers down a bit.
You can read, watch or otherwise listen to the eighteen stories of the Lost Histories Jam here on Itch. More of this sort of thing, please. That, and proper preservation efforts.