GDC08: Preserving Games panel

The first day of the Preserving Games: Saving the Past and Present Now panel was focused on identifying problems in game preservation. First, panel leader Henry Lowood outlined some of the existing work from the IGDA Game Preservation SIG, including the Digital Game Canon, whose first year included Joystiq's own Chris Grant on the panel, and a new project on the SIG's wiki devoted to memorials of game developers who have passed. About this, Lowood said "The game industry needs to recognize the past more."

Lowood suggested some future possibilities for gathering not only game code, but metadata as well, for permanent preservation, driving home the idea that we should at least intend for things to be available in 100 years. He suggested finding a way to capture data from existing game-data aggregators like Mobygames to associate with a library record.

Issues that were discussed in this panel, to be continued at tomorrow's part 2, included bringing information professionals and knowledgeable gamers, collectors, and developers together. Lowood likened gamers to destroyers -- fast, small ships -- and the colleges getting involved with the Library of Congress-funded Virtual Worlds Project (the overarching initiative to preserve games) to battleships who happen to know more about "industrial-strength preservation."

The attendees, a group consisting of developers, writers, academics, and collectors, discussed the issue of what constitutes a library, and what constitutes a "preserved" game. Is emulation preservation? Is the experience captured? Is it in a library's purview to attempt to capture an experience? Issues like these are what make the game preservation project difficult, and warrant further discussion.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.