Technology is an ever-shifting and rapidly evolving beast. People around the world once communicated via letter or telephone call – now you can FaceTime your lunch with your grandmother in Lithuania. Then you can share the details on Snapchat, complete with superfluous emojis. Nana would love that.
It stands to reason, then, that terminology becomes antiquated in a short span of time. You may have to be over a certain age to recognize some of the jargon below. If you’re feeling wary, never fear – no microtransactions lie ahead. There’s a term you’re bound to be familiar with.
Passwords and Battery-backed Saves
Regarding save states, early games operated in one of two ways. In some cases you would have to pick up your progress through the use of a cumbersome password. Typically these would contain so many characters and numbers, you would take up an entire page frantically jotting them down in your notebook. If just a single digit was off, it was useless. And so were you, for being so ineffective at recording passwords. Other games tested your mettle by making you play the whole thing in one sitting. Were you up to the challenge?
Then, battery-backed saves emerged and made our lives much easier. So celebrated was this innovation, several games even boasted about it right on the box. All you had to do was tap that nifty little ‘save’ option, and the game would store your data right there on the cartridge, ready to roll next session. In 1981, one gaming magazine denounced this demon craftwork as being for ‘cowards to retain their hard-earned position in the game before making some dangerous move’. Despite their distaste, it’s become industry standard now, albeit directly onto hard drives, or tiny little chips that store more data than a million copies of Zork.
The unfortunate truth, however, is that these batteries have a finite amount of charge on them, and we’ve entered the era where some 80s and 90s carts have bit the dust, no longer recognizing the data they once held so close, nor recognizing you, in your ripe old age. The second generation of Pokemon games were particularly notorious for this, with their battery-hungry internal clock sucking them dry at an accelerated rate. Pour one out for all the lost Quagsire out there.