The Video Game History Foundation | Gaming News| Infinite Grenade Launcher Podcast | Level 311
In this NEW IGL Podcast, hosts Kyle and AJ take a look at a great cause for games and let you know how you can get involved with The Video Game History Foundation.
Why Video Game Preservation Matters
Video game preservation matters because video games matter. Games are deeply ingrained in our culture, and they’re here to stay. They generated an unprecedented $91 billion dollars in revenue in 2016. They’re being collected by the Smithsonian, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Library of Congress. They’ve inspired dozens of feature films and even more books. They’re used as a medium of personal expression, as the means for raising money for charity, as educational tools, and in therapy.
And yet, despite all this, video game history is disappearing. The majority of games that have been created throughout history are no longer easily accessible to study and play. And even when we can play games, that playable code is only a part of the story.
In order to know how and why games were made, how they were advertised and sold, and even how they were seen by players of their time, historians and researchers rely on ephemeral materials – artwork, interviews, reviews, packaging, advertising, internal documentation, and more – to tell a complete story. And without an organized effort to collect, document, and preserve these materials, there is a very real danger of losing them forever.
The VGHF Digital Library
The heart of the Foundation is its digital library, an online repository of artifacts related to the history of video games and video game culture. The ultimate goal is to create a searchable, organized, always-online archive of verified, high-quality material that is accessible to researchers and historians as a public education resource.
A sampling of the types of materials we’re already adding to the library include:
- High-resolution, lossless scans of game packaging and documentation.
- Playable binary code that has been verified as clean and untainted.
- Marketing and PR material, including press kits, “preview” screenshots of games, trailers, vintage slides, and advertisements.
- Periodicals, newsletters, and other printed resources.
- Internal documentation, notes, source code and assets, and related materials from game creators and publishers that offer behind-the-scenes insight into how games were made and sold.
- Digitized video, including sales videos that were never before available to the public.
Due to time constraints, the current primary focus of the archive is to preserve the information that we consider the most volatile: data stored on media formats not meant for long-term storage (CD-Rs, DVD-Rs, EPROMs, magnetic disks). Our secondary focus is on archiving rare materials that are difficult to obtain or, in many cases, one-of-a-kind.
The Video Game History Foundation Digital Library is an ongoing work-in-progress that will take some time to complete. In the meantime, we’re mirroring curated “special collections” and posting them on our blog.
The VGHF Reference Collection
We’re building and maintaining a physical collection and reference library, primarily composed of books, magazines, and other paper materials related to the history of video games, to be permanently situated on the West Coast of the United States in a location to be determined.
The bulk of our current library comes from the private collection of our co-founder, Frank Cifaldi, which is being donated to the Foundation.
The primary focus of the collection-to-date has been on video and PC game-specific magazines and periodicals published in the United States between approximately 1981 and 2000. The collection covers both consumer and trade publications, as well as publications where video games are not the primary focus, including coin-op, toy, and consumer electronics magazines.
Now that the library is on its way to becoming a public resource, we’re hoping to expand the collection to include more international publications, as well as those published in the 21st century.
Museum Aid & Facilitation
The Video Game History Foundation is not a museum, and we have no current plans to become one. But the conservation of physical items is every bit as important as digitizing them, so we work closely with the major video game museums and archives to make sure artifacts have permanent homes.
Artifacts in our possession are often transitory: once we’ve digitized and preserved an item, we donate it to its permanent home. We also advise those wishing to donate their items on what their options are, and as part of our education program, expose the institutions to new audiences.
Our founding board has worked with many of the major video game museums and archives for years, and has donated items and funding to the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Strong Museum of Play, and the National Videogame Museum, among others.
Kyle Duncan Graham
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