CIRCA:Video Games Archive Project


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Digital games (aka computer or video games) are currently a young medium. New also are developments in the areas of preservation, documentation/archiving, and exhibition of video game history. Beginning in September 2012 the GRAND research group at the University of Alberta has been exploring the practice of documenting and archiving games. Here are some key aspects of the video games archive project to date:

  • We were given access to a physical collection, currently being stored on campus, of about 1000 items of physical copies of games, boxes, manuals, and so forth from the personal collection of a private individual.
  • We conducted an 'environmental scan' of existing preservation efforts to identify best practices and a find niche where we could contribute - the major developments in the preservation scene thus far fall into three categories:
    • Museum exhibits of games
    • Projects such as Preserving Virtual Worlds have
    • The "crowdsourcing" style of preservation, that is, the creation of community websites with databases of publication info, game-related art (digitized box covers, manuals, videos of game-play) is quite extensive to the point where it is possible to find at least some information about any published game.

We noted that a further issue beyond compiling information about games is the need to preserve the functionality of games as 'playable' artifacts - the latter is a complex and involved task recently being undertaken by

  • We recognized that the unique value of a particular physical collection of game paraphernalia is its localized and personal history, not simply gathering published items that in some cases may the only of their kind still in existence.
  • We interviewed
  • One of our critical findings regarding the preservation of gaming materials is that

preservation of a game itself is insufficient; we need to also preserve the information that contextualizes the game and helps researchers achieve a more complete understanding of the game’s significance and use.

complexity involved in preserving video games

Video games are a medium interdisciplinary in scope, synthesizing all forms of art and craft (material, procedural, and digitized) into artifacts that can be viewed and 'played' on a particular hardware 'platform.' The core distinguishing feature of games is their procedural interactivity

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