We’ve known for three years that Adobe planned on killing off Flash at the end of 2020. Now that we’re nearing December 31st, stalwart of digital preservation the Internet Archive has stepped up and put together an emulated Flash library, so you can continue to watch and play hundreds of old faves from your browser.
Currently, over 500 games, animations and toys have been collected in The Internet Archive’s software collection, and archivist Jason Scott reckons there’ll be more than 1000 over the next day or so.
The Internet Archive isn’t the first or only project trying to collect as much Flash content as possible. The Flash Game Archive and Flashpoint launcher are both saving as many games and animations as they can, too. With those, however, you’ll need to download software to be able to access their libraries, whereas The Internet Archive lets you do it all right from your browser. Just like old times.
“Utilising an in-development Flash emulator called Ruffle, we have added Flash support to the Internet Archive’s Emularity system, letting a subset of Flash items play in the browser as if you had a Flash plugin installed,” he says. “While Ruffle’s compatibility with Flash is less than 100%, it will play a very large portion of historical Flash animation in the browser, at both a smooth and accurate rate.”
“We’ve done this project, The Emularity, because one of our fundamental tenets is Access Drives Preservation; being able to immediately experience a version of the software in your browser, while not perfect or universal, makes it many times more likely that support will arrive to preserve these items,” he adds.
“Flash is in true danger of sinking beneath the sea, because of its depending on a specific, proprietary player to be available. As Adobe Flash is discontinued, many operating systems will automatically strip the player out of the browser and system. (As of this writing, it is already coming to fruition a month before the end-of-life deadline.) More than just dropping support, the loss of the player means the ability of anyone to experience Flash is dropping as well. Supporting Ruffle is our line in the sand from oblivion’s gaze.”
When I started writing this article I could not remember a single Flash game I used to play as a kid. I took one look at our best flash games post, however, and my memories have suddenly flooded back to me. Crimson room! Alien Hominid! Both of which are actually on the Internet Archive right now, what a delight.
To have a browse through it all yourself, head to the Internet Archive’s Flash library.
And if you’re a Flash creator or collector yourself, Scott welcomes you to add your files to the Archive. Instructions on how to do so can be found in his blog post.