Preserving Games

Archiving the Creation Processes of the Video Game Industry

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Beyond Video Game Preservation

7 November, 2008 (11:44) | News and Commentary | By: admin

Creating video games means establishing virtual worlds. The creation process involves stories, communications and networks – a series of actions that are much more complicated than meets the eye. In exploring and documenting this dynamic process, researchers must go beyond preservation and also consider the emotional and psychological aspects that went into designing a game. Researchers must also consider the cultural and societal impact the games have on the groups of people and individuals that play the game. For example, to the user, playing a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game it is not just playing a game; the MMO becomes a meeting place for people to gather and the games themselves become a community.  

The game preservation project not only becomes a landmark digitizing and archiving endeavor, it also takes the form of a pioneering effort to experiment with and establish methodologies for the preservation of digital content and new media art. By embarking on this journey, the archivist is challenged by questions such as: How will we preserve virtual worlds? How do we collect new media art? What are the best ways to make what we collect accessible to others? The answers to these questions will have a substantial impact on the future of digital preservation, especially the future of preserving MMOs.

This preservation of the creation process of video games project presents an opportunity to record the psychological and emotional aspects of developing and playing MMOs. Designers, developers and engineers in the video game industry are an extraordinarily creative group of people. A key challenge in this research will be to successfully interpret and understand what they were thinking during the video game creation process. For example: What inspired a game designer to incorporate specific attributes of a lead character?

Recently, the process of recording and collecting user data has become more pertinent than ever. Developing the best methods for handling information archives is also of paramount importance. In preserving and archiving the video game creation process, researchers need to develop systematic creation methods and establish user data management systems and processes that can be easily passed along to and replicated by future researchers.

The ethnographic research approach will serve as a highly effective method for the successful documentation and preservation of video game development histories. A key to the success of the project, for example, will be to accurately record the creation process with a series of visualizations. Conversations, observations and physical records must be collected and collated in a holistic fashion. In employing the ethnographic approach, another challenge will be to successfully integrate the information and establish clear connections between each of the elements of the creation process.

While taking on this important task, it is necessary for researchers to create a new design system that takes into consideration a video game’s long-term influence on a user. While it is essential to determine the factors that influence the game creators’ behavioral processes, the project should also endeavor to go beyond preservation and record the emotional and psychological aspects of creating video games.

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