POV: The Ingenuity of the Emulation Community

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This POV is dedicated to the breathtaking (cue Keanu Reeves) community of coders that make emulation possible. For those unfamiliar with the term, video game emulation is the practice of running or simulating games on machines that they’re not meant to be running on – for example running Nintendo Game Boy Advance Games on an iPhone or PS1 games on a Nintendo Switch. In other words, emulation is the mighty techno-sledgehammer that knocks down the barriers between gaming platforms, providing jailbroken consoles – consoles that have had their base code edited – with the ability to play any type of game. I’ve been giving it a go with a PS Vita that has been completely kitted out with an emulator system called Retroarch, allowing me to play a digital version of every single Gameboy Advance game I own.

The zanier end of the hobby is putting emulators on not only different consoles, but also household appliances – oh yeah, I’m talking about the running “can it run DOOM” joke. The iconic shooter has become a benchmark for how far gamers will go to ensure the continuation and preservation of their dearest memes. As a result, I’d dare to say that with every piece of new technology comes greater potential for DOOM memery! If there’s a digital interface, it can run DOOM. It’s been emulated on ATMs, The Touch Bar of a Macbook Pro, and even calculators. Just like the game’s protagonist, this joke is too angry and persistent to die.

However, for all the pleasantries that I associate with emulation there can also be some shady stuff – in particular, viruses. So, so many viruses. This especially applies when downloading ROMs, which are the files that contain the information needed to run the game. There are also concerns with piracy, as one can download ROMs for games they don’t own, and the risk of bricking your console while jailbreaking.

In short, video game emulation is a blessing. However, it is strongly advised that you research it thoroughly before getting started! For those interested in kitting out consoles or even your computer with the ability to emulate old classics, there are a plethora of guides online.