Requiem for the champion of abandonware
Home of the Underdogs is dead, long live to vintage videogaming. It’s unlikely that memorial words will be wasted in the IT industry for the occasion, nevertheless the event is worth highlighting: founded by the Thai woman Sarinee Achavanuntakul in September 1998, HotU eventually became the largest historic videogames archive (mostly) for DOS and Windows platforms, representing one of the major landfall points of the phenomenon at the boundary between illegality and collective cognizance better known as abandonware.
It was the site owner herself to announce, with a short message on Twitter, that the hosting company managing the HotU server was gone bankrupt cutting off the plug from the site. In its golden age, the portal was grown up to include 5,263 games, 40 applications and 1,348 manuals, and even though it hadn’t been updated since 2006, HotU continued to be a valuable resource from which to get unknown gems and great classics from the past, in the last months appreciated mainly for the information available for any game, the forum, the titles sorting and more generally for the record part of the archive.
Considering that Achavanuntakul, an Harvard graduated, is currently interested to rather different issues compared to videogames still protected by copyright but that no one is selling anymore, it’s difficult that the aforementioned information archive could magically reappear on-line on a new web host. And it’s similarly improbable that the overall abandonware phenomenon will be influenced in a noticeable manner, being the list of dedicated sites very well furnished and not being lacking the archives overflowing information on everything is classic gaming.
But a fact remains and must be underlined: if today there are services like Good Old Games, the digital delivery store of DOS and Windows historic videogames, and if the awareness of how important is to preserve humanity digital heritage makes its way in the academy and society, a non trivial part of the credit must be acknowledge to whom, like Sarinee Achavanuntakul and the contributors of the deceased Home of the Underdogs, began to think in terms of videogame archiving way before the so called experts, the researchers and the universities of the most advanced countries.
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