I grew up with the 16- and 32-bit hardware of the 90's and my interest in video games never really escaped that era. In fact, I'd be hard pressed to call myself a gamer, as I haven't followed modern video games since the mid 2000's or so. Not that I think modern games are bad, per se, I'm just not interested in them the same way.

But 320x240 resolution and an 8 bit color palette? Now we're talking!

Like many kids back then, I loved cheat codes. I was particularly fascinated by debug modes, such as those in the original Sonic the Hedgehog games. I could zoom the camera around anywhere, finding incomplete parts of the map and breaking the engine in all sorts of creative ways. Reflecting on it, it was actually very meta: I was enjoying the software more than the game.

As the Internet entered my life around the time I entered high school, I found websites and burgeoning communities that were also interested in these technical aspects of video games. Collectively, this was the 'game hacking' scene, though perhaps this term isn't nuanced enough for the variety of research being done. Some people were interested in modifying the game content; some people wanted the data dumped out to be re-used for their own purposes; others wanted to get around copy protection. As for myself, I stuck around the research communities, those who were interested in finding existing but unused content, comparing prototypes to final versions and understanding the context and history of a game's development.

Years later, I'm still at it.

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