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FISCHER: Here today, gone tomorrow

As indicated from last week, I’ve had a lot of changes to my routine lately. Last week was another one.

As an avid gamer, I’m not a huge fan of most mobile offerings. The vast majority of them artificially restrict their gameplay as part of their predatory monetization practice. We all know the drill, it may be “free-to-play,” but enjoying the game to its fullest could cost hundreds of dollars in micro-transactions.

FISCHER: Here today, gone tomorrowI normally avoid these kind of games, but for the last seven years I have indulged myself in one of their ilk in particular, “Final Fantasy Record Keeper.” It’s not the most well known gacha game out there, but it’s been part of my daily routine since launching in 2015.

Logging in is often the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning and running through a few dungeons is usually how I wind down before bed.

Until now.

Last Thursday, the game’s servers went down for good. In the blink of an eye all the progress I’ve made, all the characters I’ve built up, all the resources I’ve horded, vanished into digital oblivion as though they were never there at all.

Common wisdom says that “the internet is forever.”

Sometimes that can feel true. After all, the promotional website for 1996’s “Space Jam” can still be accessed and explored in all its retro glory to this day.

Millions of terabytes of data storage centers are kept operating around the clock so that we can save our vacation photos in the cloud, stream the latest episode of the current hit show, access our bank account information online, and even look up websites for 26 year old Loony Tunes movies.

We tend to take for granted the idea that digital media is effectively eternal, particularly in comparison to its physical counterparts. Photos fade, paper crumbles, and even plastic DVDs degrade over time. It has become popular to digitize pretty much everything now, from family memories to movies to tax documents. Much of this too sits in “the cloud,” stored on a server farm in some non-descript location so that it can be accessed wherever there is an internet connection available.

In reality though, the internet isn’t forever.

Every tweet on Twitter, every movie on Netflix, every video game on Steam, and every app in the Google Play store depends on running servers and people to maintain them. The website for “Space Jam” remains active because somebody decided the miniscule cost to keep it up is worth the good publicity.

However, this is not the case for everything, and as more of our media becomes exclusively stored online, we run the risk of losing it forever when the hosts ultimately shut down.

Earlier this year it was announced that Nintendo will be shutting down the digital storefront for its older game consoles. Such things are inevitable, but it means that there are several games that will all but cease to exist, no longer available for purchase on any platform.

With more and more of anything and everything being housed online, archiving is going to have to be a bigger consideration. Not just for entertainment media, but everything. So back up your files and then back them up again.

– Travis Fischer is a news writer for the Charles City Press and will have to find a new gatcha to indulge in.

 

 

 

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