Lost in Translation


The Per­for­mance, Capa­bili­ties, Usage and Limits of Emulators for the Long-Term Preser­vation of Digital Multim­edia Artifacts as Exemplified by Com­puter Games and Digital Media Art

Lost in Translation deals with emulation as a preservation strategy in the digital long-term preservation of computer games, digital media art and related digital artifacts.

The author addresses the heart of this technology – the emulators themselves. Their functionality as a translator for digital artifacts and their development/creation environment and design goals are analyzed and discussed in detail to reveal and describe inherent, technical, pragmatic, legal and socio-economic barriers and limits of this preservation strategy.

The book is therefore aimed not only at computer scientists, but at all concerned academic fields in the hope of contributing to the discourse and the preservation of our digital cultural heritage.

Lost in Translation (Cover)

188 Pages, Hardcover.

This Book's Website
On this page you can find further information such as the fully linked bibliography list, a list of all analyzed emulators (including links, and classification), definitions and downloads (e.g. the appendix of the book and the emulator comparison spreadsheet).
Definition of 'Translation Gap'

trans·la·tion gap \tran(t)s-ˈlā-shən ˈgap\

Borrowed from linguistics, Translation Gap refers to all deviations that exist when rendering, perceiving, and interacting with a complex digital artifact within an emulation environment, as well as the interaction with the emulation environment itself as opposed to the perception and interaction with the environment of the original artifact. It is important to distinguish between deviations at the physical, logical and conceptual level of the object.

In linguistics, the semantic gap in the translation of texts from one natural language into another is referred to as the Translation Gap. This occurs, for example with idioms or phrases for which there is no (exact) equivalent in the target language. Rather a meaningful translation using semantically similar concepts in the target language must be found that also takes into account the cultural context of the circle of recipients. For historical texts, the adjustment no longer common idioms is also necessary.

Similarly, certain properties of digital artifacts in the context of their reception environment and performance practice are lost when rendered through the (binary) translation of emulation environments. They are “Lost in Translation”.

Further Information
The author addresses the issue of long-term digital preservation of our cultural heritage in the context of the following other organizations. We invite you to join and contribute:
Logo of the German Informatics SocietyThe challenge of long-term preservation and access to digital objects in cultural institutions is the focus of the joint experts group “long-term preservation / software emulation” of the German Informatic Society (Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V.) and the “nestor” competence network for digital preservation. Logo nestorThe range of tasks and activities stretch from the clarification of conceptual and legal issues to the transfer of technical solutions for practical use as well as raising public awareness. The variety of digital objects – from simple text documents to complex multimedia application – require different conceptual and technical solutions.
Working Group Media ArchaeologyThe Working Group Media Archaeology consists of an interdisciplinary team of researchers and academics who deal with the topic of media and software archeology. Our working group aims to foster exchange and networking.

Book Citation

Loebel, J.-M.: Lost in Translation – Leistungsfähigkeit, Einsatz und Grenzen von Emulatoren bei der Langzeitbewahrung digitaler multimedialer Objekte am Beispiel von Computerspielen., Glückstadt: Verlag Werner Hülsbusch (vwh), 2014. ISBN 978-3-86488-068-1

Table of Contents Preface
Researched Emulators
To identify emulators that are discussed and used in the context of digital long-term preservation, a literature search was conducted. In this case, all the emulators mentioned in the respective research papers were included (regardless of any final selection criteria discussed and used in the paper). The aim was to provide an overview of emulators actually being referenced in a long-term preservation / academic context rather than a current or exhaustive list of all existing emulators.
This interactive online spreadsheet lists the emulators divided into categories and grouped according to the original system. By clicking on “more …”, addition technical information and classifications of emulators and related projects and literature can be retrieved which is discussed and analyzed in detail in the book.
Additionally, all collected data can be downloaded as an Open Office Spreadsheet.

Download Emulator Comparison Spreadsheet (Open Office, ODS)

Name Emulator for Hostsystem(s) Details
SIMH various Mainframes, including but not limited to DEC: PDP, VAX – IBM: 7090/94 Windows, MacOS X, Linux, Unix more…
Hercules IBM S/360, S/370, ESA/390, z/Architecture Windows, MacOS X, Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD more…
M.A.M.E. >10.000 Arcade-ROMs Windows, MacOS X, Linux, Unix more…
ARAnyM Atari ST/TT/Falcon Windows, MacOS X, Linux more…
Arnold Amstrad CPC/CPC+ Windows, Linux, Unix more…
Hatari / WinSTon Atari ST Windows, MacOS X, Linux, BeOS more…
JaC64 Commodore C64 Windows, MacOS X, Linux, Unix more…
VICE Commodore C64 Windows, MacOS X, Linux, Unix, BeOS, Amiga more…
M.E.S.S. >250 Home Computer Systems-Systeme Windows, MacOS X, Linux, Unix more…
UAE Commodore Amiga Windows, Linux, Unix more…
DOSBox PC-DOS (x86) Windows, MacOS X, Linux, Unix, (OS/2, Solaris, BeOS) more…
Dioscuri PC: x86 (≤ Windows 3.0) Windows, MacOS X, Linux, Unix more…
JPC PC: x86 Windows, MacOS X, Linux, Unix more…
Parallels Workstation PC: x86 Windows, Linux more…
Plex86 PC: x86 Linux more…
QEMU PC: x86, PowerPC, ARM, SPARC Linux, Unix, MacOS X more…
VirtualPC PC: x86 MacOS X (PowerPC) more…
VirtualBox PC: x86 Windows, MacOS X, Linux, Solaris more…
VMWare PC: x86 Windows, Linux, MacOS X more…
PearPC PC: PowerPC Windows, Linux, FreeBSD more…
Mini vMac Mac: Classic Macs Windows, MacOS X, Linux, DOS, OS/2 more…
Basilisk II Mac: 68000 Windows, MacOS X, Linux, BeOS more…
PCSX Sony PlayStation Windows, MacOS X, Linux more…
SNES9x Super Nintendo Entertainment System Windows, MacOS X, Linux, PlayStation 3, GameCube, PSP, iOS, Android more…
vNES Nintendo Entertainment System Windows, MacOS X, Linux, Unix more…
ZSNES Super Nintendo Entertainment System MS-DOS, Windows, Linux, MacOS X (x86) more…
Gens32 Sega Genesis Windows more…
Kega Fusion Sega Genesis, Sega Master System Windows, MacOS X more…
NeoCD SNK NeoGeo CD Windows, Linux, BeOS more…
Nebula SNK NeoGeo Windows more…
O2EM Magnavox Odyssey² Windows more…
Dega Sega Master System Windows more…
PCSX2 Sony PlayStation 2 Windows, MacOS X, Linux more…
Stella Atari 2600 Windows, MacOS X, Linux more…
1964 Nintendo 64 Windows more…
Dolphin Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo Wii Windows, MacOS X, Linux more…
nullDC Sega Dreamcast Windows, PlayStation 3 more…
Yabause Sega Saturn Windows, MacOS X, Linux, FreeBSD, PSP, Wii more…
cxbx Microsoft Xbox Windows more…
GNUBoy Nintendo Game Boy Windows, Linux more…
DeSmuME Nintendo DS Windows, MacOS X, Linux more…
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Appendix: CLOC-Output of the Code Analysis of the discussed Emulators
Please find attached the CLOC output of the source code analysis of the different emulators as well as the emulator comparison spreadsheet.

Download Appendix Download Emulator Comparison Spreadsheet (Open Office, ODS)


Table of Contents Preface
Disclaimer for External Links (in German, click to view)

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