Sarinee Achavanuntakul's Home of the Underdogs was the best abandonware site on the early web, introducing a new generation to countless brilliant games and helping spark the retrogaming boom of the aughts. A vast and well-organized library of obscurities, wonders and wrecks, it applied the archivist's exhaustive eye to the 1990s ramshackle abandonware scene. Alex Walker:
What eventuated became one of the first major fights online around game preservation. While Achavanuntakul responded by taking the links down, and fully acknowledged the illegality of the site, she argued that there was a moral imperative to preserve games, especially when rights holders' refused to make their games available to consumers.
And because the designers of games often weren't the owners of the IP, they had a different view of HotU than their own publishers. One designer that emailed in to thank HotU for its archival efforts, according to Achavanuntakul, was Chris Crawford, the maker of Excalibur and Balance of Power. ... Most of the correspondence, however, was simply developers thankful that their blood, sweat, and tears was being exposed to a new audience.
Download links were ultimately removed to mollify publishers made suddenly aware of the value of their own back catalogs, and Achavanuntakul departed the site in the mid-2000s, turning it over to a team of curators. It remains a snapshot of an important moment in the indie dev renaissance, an exemplary argument for digital archives.
You can now buy Sword of the Samurai, the then-abandoned title Achavununtakul was unable to find in the 1990s, for $6 at Good Old Games.
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