UK Web Archive blog

20 September 2012

Valuing Video Games Heritage: an update on our new video games collection

[British Library Digital Curator Stella Wisdom updates us on a forthcoming special collection, preserving the rich digital heritage of video games.]

Some of you may remember my blog post from February this year , where I explained that I was selecting websites for a new Web Archive collection that will preserve information about computer games; including resources documenting gaming culture and the impact that video games have had on education and contemporary cultural life.

Since then I’ve been busy researching several target areas for sites that I would like to add to the collection, such as:

  • Sites which illustrate the experience of playing games, e.g. walkthroughs, image galleries, videos of game play and FAQs
  • Fansites
  • Forums
  • Vulnerable sites, e.g. industry sites for companies that have ceased trading
  • Sites about popular games i.e. the types of games played by people who do not identify themselves as "gamers"
  • Gamification, i.e. use of game features and techniques being adopted in non-game contexts
  • Educational games and sites which illustrate the progression of game development education
  • Events, e.g. game launches, game culture festivals
  • Pro and anti-video games and game culture sites
  • Sites which chart the evolution of video games
  • Game development competitions, including those that showcase student and independent game developers’ work
  • Game publishers, retailers and reviewers, including journalistic output

One of my challenges has been in obtaining permission from website owners; as not everyone within the video game industry or player community seems to value the richness of its history and heritage, or understand the concepts of digital preservation and web archiving. However, I’ve been making progress in networking, both online and in person, with those who create and play video games. So I’m hoping that this engagement activity will encourage more site owners to respond positively and give their support to the project. I’m also still seeking nominations, so if you know of any sites that you think should be included, then please get in touch (at Stella.Wisdom@bl.uk or via Twitter @miss_wisdom) or use the nomination form

So far, I’ve discovered some wonderful resources and have been able to archive interesting sites, which include:

  • GameCity; an annual videogame culture festival that takes place in Nottingham
  • Dare to be Digital; a video games development competition at Abertay University for students at UK universities and art colleges
  • BAFTA Games; who give British Academy Games Awards and also organise a competition for 11 to 16 year olds to recognise and encourage young games designers
  • North Castle; one of the oldest fansites for the Nintendo game The Legend of Zelda   
  • The Oliver Twins; a site that tells the story of Philip & Andrew Oliver, who from the age of 12 began writing games for the UK games market and co-founded Blitz Games Studios in 1990.

Comments

Don't forget some of the very first video games, on the Sinclair ZX-80 and ZX-81 computers. Many of those games are now forgotten with their origins undocumented. Softsync was one software publisher for those machines; I believe they became Expert Software(?)--many moons ago...

Most people don't think of video games as an art form, or even that they could have any kind of redeeming value at all. But I will say that in some instances at least, where some real creativity has been applied, video games can indeed be though of as art and/or literature of a unique type.

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