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British Library Considers Archiving Video Games
British Library Considers Archiving Video Games
November 5, 2010 | By Simon Parkin

November 5, 2010 | By Simon Parkin

A spokesman for the British Library has expressed interest in archiving UK-developed video games and associated documentation in a bid to help preserve the industry's 30-year history.

Paul Wheatley, a specialist in digital preservation at the British Library, expressed fears that not enough is being done to archive the thousands of games which have been produced in the United Kingdom.

"The games publishing industry recognizes the value in preserving their computer games and many in the industry that I've talked to could relay horror stories about old material disappearing or being left to gradually decay in a box under someones desk," he said.

Wheatley said that the British Library, which requires publishers of the printed word to deposit a single copy of their works with the establishment, is keen to lend support to the archiving effort, building on work already done by the National Videogame Archive.

In September 2008, the National Videogame Archive was created at the National Media Museum in Bradford, in collaboration with Nottingham Trent University.

Wheatley said: "At the very least I would like the British Library to provide support to the NVA based on this digital preservation expertise and I'm hoping we can collaborate further."

The UK games industry is widely accepting of the need for an archive. Michael Rawlinson, head of UK Interactive Entertainment, told an audience during Nottingham's GameCity last week: "An archive is good for nostalgia and to connect back to our history and it helps us to understand our culture today based on our contribution to the past. It's absolutely right that we should have an archive."

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Jasper W
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Let's wait a hundred years and then see which games are still relevant.

gus one
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That's not the point. It's about documenting history. The British library is amazing. You can read books 100s of years old. They are also working out how to document and store websites.

Morgan Ramsay
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Time is the ultimate arbiter of relevance; unfortunately, time has no preference, and eventually, nothing is relevant.

Gregory Kinneman
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@Morgan: Aha, the negative existentialist :)

Gus is the right one: having old documents is wonderful. That's half of the reason why abandonware sites exists, since they make no money off of distributing old games.

There is a public good in making history and historical evidence visible and accessible, and I'm glad the British Library sees this.