Five Years Later, It's Nearly Impossible to Play Horror Classic 'P.T.'

It was a week before his son’s birthday, and Joshua Lucke was on a mission. His son had come across an amaetur remake of P.T., the beloved “playable teaser” for a Silent Hill game Metal Gear designer Hideo Kojima planned to make with filmmaker Guillermo del Toro before it was abruptly cancelled, on the Google Play store. Now, he wanted to surprise him with the real thing, but Lucke ran into a familiar problem: There was no easy way to play P.T.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/zmjvw3/five-years-later-its-nearly-impossible-to-play-horror-classic-pt

I have to admit, I have somewhat conflicted feelings about this. On the one hand, I consider the burning of the Library of Alexandria one of the great non-loss-of-life tragedies in human history. On the other hand, I wonder if “we have to save everything” is really a healthy outlook (something that was really driven home to me with those stories about people trying to preserve the Ouya catalog of all things).

Business owners and NIMBYs manipulate historical preservation to snuff out affordable housing and suppress diversity. Nostalgia porn dominates pop culture while frequently whitewashing the history it claims to be glorifying (not to mention that nostalgia is just freaking boring). And I don’t have any citations for this, but I imagine “save everything” really means “save everything that the people in power care about.”

I know losing PT isn’t going to make a dent one way or the other, and the circumstances around its removal are pretty crappy, but it’s okay to let it go. Insisting that everything must be preserved makes it really hard to let go, and sometimes we need to let go. I guess it sucks for this guy that he can’t share PT with his son. But it’s fine. They’ll both be fine. We’ll all be fine. Maybe we don’t have to save everything.

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I’d rather try. Games are apart of our history and should be treated as such.

Heck, P.T might genuinely one of the more important modern games ever made. This video just released today that I think really nails just what the game actually was: Hideo Kojima laying the groundwork to make his own company by using the language of this game to warn Konami employees of what’s coming and expressing his frustration as an artist working with the company’s new direction.

Even without this context, it’s an insanely inventive game that has had a massive impact on the medium and the design of horror games in general. The fact there’s almost no way left to play it is utterly absurd.

Not everything can be saved, but when we can’t even preserve something this historically important to the medium, then we’re doing a massive disservice to history itself.

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I don’t think that title case Game Preservation is particularly a challenge here. There exist PS4’s with downloaded copies that can play the game. The Smithsonian or whatever can acquire one of these PS4’s, put it in a. room and tada, P.T. is preserved. It’s just not distributed in any form because the owners of the work refuse to distribute it and the nature of digital distribution removes the possibility of a legal secondary market. The problem here is one of inconvenience, not some grand idea of lost history.

The thing to me that is worth highlighting here (and I think the article does do this) is the degree to which legal and technical efforts have placed control over works into the hands of IP owners. Games, more than ever, resist “cheap hacks” to escape that kind of control (IMO: Let’s Plays are more of a performance than a copy) preventing the kind of cult following that other sorts of abandoned media can accumulate (well, without breaking laws/protection measures).

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I’d rather the choice of what gets preserved and what gets lost be up to the general public than some lawyer or a business guy who inherited an IP from the people who actually made it. Or fuck, even the guys or gals who made it doesn’t deserve to make the choice, really. Lots of things deserve to be forgotten and will be, even the stuff we cherish now in the great span of history probably won’t last. (Will school children five centuries from now have to play Zelda: BOTW as some cultural relic? Probably not.)

Eventually generations just lose interest in things. But that doesn’t mean things are lost so easily or should be lost so easily. Scholars can still study Elizabethan drama even when the general public doesn’t care about it outside of Shakespeare. I imagine 99% of all the pop culture today will be lost in just a short while relatively, I won’t cry if say, Venom (2018) is lost to the sands of time, but you never know what might be useful at some point.

There is still that interest in P.T. and Fuck Konami for not allowing that interest to be expanded and still cherished. They don’t get to make that choice. We make that choice, because while P.T. belongs to Konami today, it won’t belong to them eventually, and then it’s ours in public domain.

And if Konami causes something we have future ownership in to be destroyed, shouldn’t we have a problem with that?

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I am a professional archivist and I literally discussed P.T last week as an example of the many challenges in preserving video games.

Archival best practices acknowledge that we can’t save everything. In fact, we shouldn’t save everything. Space and funding aside, not every bit of info/piece of paper has historical significance but we try our best to get a representative sample of materials. These items are usually within the scope of whatever an archives collects. A women’s history library, for example, is going to have very different holdings from a local historical society. We can’t always predict what will be historically significant in the future but we do spend time thinking about those possibilities and try to anticipate the needs of current/future communities.

I agree with JKDarkSide. P.T. absolutely made a significant cultural impact and had a major influence on the horror games that came after. It’s a shame it’s not easily accessible.

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Isn’t this exactly the argument FOR saving P.T.? People in power explicitly don’t give a shit about it. They would much rather it never existed. An interesting and historically remarkable artistic work that was made avaliable for free has been deliberately left to rot by capitalism because anything that isn’t tightly leashed and easily monetizable is worth very little. The business owners and people in power you talk about have little in common with the people who want P.T. to be preserved. They’re just Konami.

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Yeah, probably. I’m not sure how much weight I give the “evils of capitalism” argument given PT’s origins as a literal advertisement, but I am willing to stipulate its importance as a cultural artifact (and also to stipulate that this article was probably not the best one to make my point with).

I’m not pro eradication-of-PT. I’m anti wallowing, constantly pining for things long past. Why it’s gone is much less salient a fact than that it is gone. Still, the chances of it being lost to history any time soon are close to nil - actually, it is probably much less likely to be forgotten than it would’ve been if Konami had just left it on the vine.

(I will also stipulate that I am a bit of a grump that gets seriously frustrated at weaponized and remixed nostalgia. Take pixel art games. I had to live with that shit for 15 years. I thought we were done with them, but then a bunch of twenty-somethings who didn’t actually have to suffer through piles of shitty platformers in real time keep bringing them back. 90% of those old games were terrible!! Even the ones everyone thinks weren’t terrible probably were. Can we move on already, please?!
/endBarelyEvenTangentiallyRelatedRant )

Again, I’m for deciding that old things can be forgotten and lost in some cases, but I’m away against Konami getting a choice in the matter.

Konami does not get to choose what survives and what doesn’t.

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Somehow I have PT on my newer White PS4 Pro I got last year, somehow. I think I did a LAN system transfer process when I upgraded.

I’m convinced it’ll eat itself like a cassette tape if I launch it.

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That’s the debatable part, because the original version of PT was this, but the version we got was made right after Kojima realized he was going to be kicked out of Konami. If that theory in the video is right, the PT that was released is an artistic statement and snap back at corporate heads and not simply an ad for an already doomed project.

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I transferred it when I got a Pro too, and I’m dying to play it again, but I’m terrified that I’ll accidentally delete it when I go to clear the save :stuck_out_tongue:

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Most underrated thing about PT is that it really made full use out of the PS4’s wireless controller

(in that I was able to play it from a safe distance while peering at the distant TV through the banister in the corridor outside my room)

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Kind of disappointed that, in the wake of PT, most of the games that directly followed on from it seemed to go with the “ooh it’s first person horror in a house” thing rather than thinking about the really interesting stuff: the horror in suburbia, the surrealism, the crazy (maybe slightly too crazy?) puzzle design and how it added to the atmosphere of the horror, the experimentation.

It’s always a bit of a downer that we’ll probably never find out what was in store for Silent Hills, but what little we got really got my imagination running, so I can’t complain too much. (I’m sure I would’ve been disappointed at anything that wasn’t Twin Peaks: The Return but in game form).

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I remember the Super Best Friends did play a game like this several years back for a shit storm marathon, it started like a normal horror game and then a really esoteric time loop started after they reached a certain point. Sadly, the game doesn’t seem that well known, so I don’t know how much it pushed things.

What a P.T. it’s so hard to play now.

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This title is just so wrong. You can trivially within 20 mins easily download the PT remake and play that. It’s far cry from being “impossible”

I like this video

(though the convincing argument for it being Kojima commenting on Konami / his role there makes PT both more interesting [bc wow, Kojima, wow!] and less interesting [the whole mystery surrounding it having some sort of answer])

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The remake is cool, but it’s a remake. It’s not the original version as made by the team at Konami. There are differences, and from a game preservation standpoint it’s not the same as having the original available for people to play. I get not caring about these tiny details in general, but it really can’t be seen as anything but a blow to gaming history that P.T. is so hard to obtain and preserve.

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No sure, but this is not the first title lost to time, many online games have come and gone and this will be eventually emulatable too. But it’s definitely not “Nearly Impossible to Play Horror Classic ‘P.T.” for a player, the remake is going to be 99% as good or better for someone playing it today vs someone giving them an old console with it on it to play it on.