Leipzig GC 2007: The French team preserving gaming history for the future

“Dave, you’ve got to get over to Hall 5. There are some guys over there who’ve got every console ever on free play.”

“Every console ever?”

“And a couple of arcade cabinets. And the consoles are all set up on the original TVs from each era.”

“Let’s go.”

Thus went the conversation between myself and and my Dad which led to my meeting with the guys from MO5. Approaching their booth was like was walking into the best theme parks of my childhood, only without the need to queue for an hour in close proximity to a fat sweaty oaf, or tramp through the salt and vinegar-scented vomit of the weaker children who had gone before me. 

In front of my gleaming eyes laid a banquet of orgiastic videogame excess ripe for the hedonistic plundering, able to turn even the most scrawny, game-starved pauper into a gelatinous greasy, pew-mammoth within a matter of minutes. I gorged myself, and gorged myself well. And it was good. 

What was it all about though? What universal force of all that is good and twinkly had bestowed this incandescent vision upon my unprepared eyes? After ogling over a collection which spanned from the Atari 2600 to the Dreamcast — the absence of a ZX Spectrum thankfully stopping me from making the obvious and twee A-Z analogy — by way of the Jaguar, Neo Geo, Virtual Boy, Vectrex and everything in between, I headed over to one of the guys running the stand to find out just who I had to offer my first-born to.

It turned out that MO5 is a Paris-based collective dedicated to building the biggest and most complete archive of gaming hardware humanly possible. Starting with one private collection, it quickly grew into a group of tireless acolytes dedicated to the cause of videogames as the next modern art and entertainment medium.

As such, they want the history of the medium properly cataloged and honored, and given the way they’re going — over 1000 machines so far, and peripherals and magazines to go with everything they have — you’d have to be damn fool to doubt them. Talking to the guys at Leipzig, enthusiasm permeated the conversation like the thick clouds of vaporised nerd-sweat surrounding Nintendo’s Wii Fit kiosks, and was twice as affecting. 

They now work out of a room donated to them by a Parisian high school, where they collect, store, recondition and repair consoles and computers from every era, and even offer a long-stay service to gamers without the space or time to store and look after their own machines. All they ask is that they’re allowed to use the machines as part of their collection when they go on tour at events like the GC, and every piece of hardware is tagged and cataloged so that it can be returned even years later. Just think of them as a combined Florence Nightingale and Jesus figure for all the lost and mistreated consoles of the world.

They’re not happy to just rest on their already sizable laurels though. The next step, as is only right and logical, is to open an official museum dedicated to their collection. They’re already working on a proposal for the French government in an attempt to secure funding, and I wish them all the luck in the world with it. Gaming is well at the stage where it needs to be treated alongside film on a cultural level, and it’s about time that was made concrete with an establishment dedicated to its history. If MO5 are the guys to make that happen, and I have no reason to believe they won’t be, then the Channel tunnel is about to become my new best friend. 

In the meantime, hit their site, which you can find right here. You might need to translate if you’re not too hot on the France-speak, but you can also win an English version of their statement of intent in glorious PDF form by guessing which is the magic word in this sentence. 

David Houghton