Preserving MMOs: An Archivist's Challenge

Preservation of 'new media' has gotten some attention in recent months — a lot of venerable collections are moving to figure out the best ways to preserve games and gaming media in an archival setting, while building useful collections for the future. The University of Texas at Austin was recently awarded over $250,000 to study the collection and preservation of MMOs. In addition to the obvious bits of preservation problems — software and the like — the project is also pretty broad in scope, including an oral history component, as the project head Megan Winget explained:

I'd like to conduct in-depth interviews with all types of people involved in the creation process, from programmers and testers to visual artists and music composers, as well as game developers, producers and visionaries .... Another part of my research is to collect oral histories from gamers and game developers regarding their experiences playing games, specifically during "epochal" moments, like when Lord British was assassinated in Ultima Online. Some people also happened to record those moments, and it would be very interesting to collect those artifacts for the cultural record.


I'll be curious to see how this project develops, since it could potentially be very influential in how other collections begin organizing and preserving new media and video games more specifically. The idea of oral history is a particularly good one — the historian in me is glad people are working on things like this now, as opposed to scrambling when it's almost too late. University of Texas at Austin Looks at MMO Preservation [Game Culture] & LJ Talks to Megan Winget, Who Studies Preservation of Online Games [Library Journal] [via GameSetWatch]

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