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Thinking About Videogames Megan Winget School of Information University of Texas at Austin
Game Archives <ul><li>Emulation Test-beds </li></ul><ul><li>Artifacts of Participatory Culture (i.e., game performance arc...
Game Archives <ul><li>Emulation Test-beds </li></ul><ul><li>Artifacts of Participatory Culture (i.e., game performance arc...
Engine Publisher Art / Design Game Tech IP Holder Level Mods Total Conversion Machinima Etc. The Game Mods
Game Representations <ul><li>Object? Artifact? System? Entity! </li></ul>
Game Representations
Context:   The Games & Supporting Materials
Context: Cultural Materials
Context: Artifacts of Participatory Culture <ul><li>Library of Books in Ultima Online </li></ul><ul><li>Stars of Intrepid ...
Library in Ultima <ul><li>Books were collected  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ … on the Catskills shard of Ultima Online. They we...
Library in Ultima (Characteristics) 24 Directories 717 Books
Intrepid History Project (1) <ul><li>Wiki to collect and preserve:  </li></ul><ul><li>“ This website is for sharing your m...
Intrepid History Project (characteristics) <ul><li>1,403 pages  </li></ul><ul><li>19 sections  </li></ul>
Matrix Online (1) <ul><li>Much more personal vision of player experience </li></ul><ul><li>Use of HTML rather than wikis t...
Matrix Online (2)
Tectonic Shift <ul><li>Production and authorship  </li></ul><ul><li>Dissemination </li></ul><ul><li>Concept of authoritati...
Thanks! [email_address]
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Preservating Videogames by Megan Winget | Visitors programm

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presentation by Megan Winget (UT Austin) at NIMk, Amsterdam on June 28th 2011 for the expert meeting: Born Digital preservation challenges?

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  • Thank you all so much for making the time to come to my early morning presentation. I appreciate your presence, and I designed this presentation to be as entertaining and energizing as possible.
  • In 2002 Henry Lowood (at Stanford) called for the development of 5 different, interrelated kinds of collections to support videogame preservation.
  • 2008, I got an IMLS early career award focused on examining the creation behaviors of the videogame industry, for the purpose of building archival models for more purposeful appraisal and selection, as well as coming to a more cohesive understanding of videogames’ inherently important qualities, with the idea that it’s difficult to preserve something if you have no idea how it was created. I’ve recently finished conducting the interviews with videogame creators , and for the remainder of this presentation, will present some of the more thought-provoking findings from this study. Primarily, I will address the relationship between videogames and more traditional materials in terms of creation models, representation, and context
  • Okay, so we have the Game, the Studio, the Publisher, and the IP rights holder. In addition to the formally produced game, a side effect of the open source, or “maker,” or “participatory” culture is the existence of player created game modifications (or MODS). ( X ) game content is usually packaged with game engine, (Game engines are the software platforms for handling graphics, game physics, artificial intelligence, and the structure of game levels and file formats, editors, etc.) A published computer game today is often a set of design tools as much as a finished design, so when a game is released, Independent level, scenario, and mod designers then take over, sometimes creating new levels ( X ) (here is the ghostbusters level of doom),, and sometimes even creating entirely new games known as “total conversion” mods . (An example: ( X ) Counter-Strike (most popular internet-based game of all) multiplayer modification ( X ) of single-player Half-Life). There is also a community of people who use the game engine as the basis for theatrical narrative . ( X ) This is called machinima , and it’s essentially using the game as the basis for movies. Additionally, some people develop tools to augment gameplay ( X ) (the bejeweled addon for WoW) Contemporary game scene enriched by these projects, and supported (to some degree) by the industry. I’d like to add here as an aside, that most of the people who are currently most well known for innovation in game development are the modders. And then, as always, are the players ( X ), some of whom particularly interact with the mods ( X ), some of whom primarily interact with the formally published games ( X ), and some of them like it all ( X ). The combination of an “ unknown ” (and unknowable ) creator and a malleable dissemination model , makes it difficult to document the production process, determine canon and identify masterpieces , and the presence of parallel creation and production streams makes it very difficult use traditional metrics for collection development , appraisal , and selection .
  • So what should we collect? Well, in a number of our interviews, the developers said that they were actually not that interested in retaining the ability to play the games – this was due to a number of factors… but most referred either directly or indirectly to the idea of authenticity . There are lots of privately run emulation sites out there and its difficult to know what you’re interacting with on any given site; also, there’s a difference between playing a game on its original hardware and playing an emulated game, which has not been addressed by emulation devotees. So what did the developers want to see in a videogame archive? - Development documentation (which is going to be difficult) - Comprehensive game representations (both technical and theoretical) (formal and narrative) (metadata) Contextual Materials Let’s address the issue of game representations : What is the nature of the thing we are trying to collect, describe, manage and preserve? I want to get away from the idea of the physical here. Videogames, while having a physical component (they might be delivered on a DVD or installed on a hard-drive), are primarily digital. They are not artifacts, nor are they objects in the way that a painting or a book is an object. The problem is, I think that most digital preservation methods are the result of our object-centric world-view: emulation and migration serve to preserve access to the most object-like thing in a digital system – the code itself. Preserving the code might (and there is no agreed upon wisdom here) be enough for some of the earlier videogames, specifically the arcade games. For example, if you can conserve the original PacMan cabinet and the underlying motherboard, that might be valuable – there’s even some agreement that there is value in emulating these older games on newer computers . But what about Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (best exemplified by World of Warcraft?) – in this instance, because of the extremely interactive and collaborative nature of this game, emulating the game software is very similar to preserving a chessboard ( X ) and saying you’ve preserved the game of chess. Yes, you have to have a chessboard to play chess, but that’s only a very small part of the entire experience. World of Warcraft is, at its core, “other people” ( X ) – Without all the players, their relationships, responsibilities and interactions, World of Warcraft is simply an empty graphical interface containing a set of rules and potential situations . So the question for me becomes, How do you represent and adequately describe a…thing…that doesn’t really exist until 100,000 people interact with it? So any representation that doesn’t allow for some formalized description of the social aspect of the game will, in my opinion, be inadequate .
  • So, I’m proposing that the videogame is a complex digital interactive system , ( X ) which has a primary primary entity made up of technological and social systems, which are themselves made up of other systems and artifacts. There are existing schemas that allow for description of the technological side: Media Arts Notation System provides an XML schema to describe complex digital interactive systems FRBR being used to describe entities that have different manifestations and expressions OAIS is a model for bringing together lots of different materials in one digital space But none of these really provide a means to describe social interactions provided by the game. I think this is an important ongoing need for the digital curation community: the development of a formalized language to describe social interaction .
  • Created in traditional models: - (The delivery mechanism (the console / computer / handheld device)) - The published game (in all its formats?) (and I’m not just being a pill – the Wii version is a different game from all the other versions…) Published documentation
  • There are also other kinds of authoritative materials related to videogames, but not related specifically to the game itself. Formally published magazines… Antic was the name of a home computer magazine devoted to the Atari 8-bit computer line (Atari 400/800 and compatibles). Its ISSN is 0113-1141. It took its name from the ANTIC chip which produced the Atari line&apos;s graphics. The first issue was published in April 1982. While it began as a bimonthly magazine, within a year it had gone monthly. The last issue was in June/July 1990. All told, 88 issues were published. A.N.A.L.O.G. (from Atari Newsletter And Lots Of Games) was the name of a computer magazine devoted to the Atari 8-bit home computer line. It was known for its &amp;quot;advanced&amp;quot; programs in comparison to most type-in magazines of the era, especially its main rival, ANTIC, another long-lived magazine devoted to the Atari 8-bit line. ANALOGs first issue was released in February 1981 and it was published bi-monthly and then monthly until 1988 when it was sold to LFP, Inc. It continued to run until its final issue in December 1989.
  • The site primarily preserves live event transcripts of dialogue for characters like Morpheus, Niobe, Trinity, Neo, various Agents &amp; etc.
  • Videogames provide a valuable venue to explore problems with production and authorship, dissemination, and the idea of authority. Additionally, because of the participatory nature of games, we’re seeing a shift in how people are interacting with, and expecting to be able to interact with media. These artifacts = harbingers of things to come, and I truly believe that looking at them in a formalized and robust way will lead to important discoveries for our field generally. This project was a preliminary exploration of the issues and I look forward to continuing to examine these issues.
  • Thank you so much for your time and attention. If you have any questions, or would like to comment on my work, I’d look forward to talking with you. I’m leaving tomorrow, so I have lots of time to talk later today.
  • Transcript of "Preservating Videogames by Megan Winget | Visitors programm"

    1. 1. Thinking About Videogames Megan Winget School of Information University of Texas at Austin
    2. 2. Game Archives <ul><li>Emulation Test-beds </li></ul><ul><li>Artifacts of Participatory Culture (i.e., game performance archives) </li></ul><ul><li>Archives of Documents, source code, digital assets, ancillary documentation of system development </li></ul><ul><li>Artifact collections </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborations among Libraries, Archives & Museums </li></ul>
    3. 3. Game Archives <ul><li>Emulation Test-beds </li></ul><ul><li>Artifacts of Participatory Culture (i.e., game performance archives) </li></ul><ul><li>Archives of Documents, source code, digital assets, ancillary documentation of system development </li></ul><ul><li>Artifact collections </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborations among Libraries, Archives & Museums </li></ul>
    4. 4. Engine Publisher Art / Design Game Tech IP Holder Level Mods Total Conversion Machinima Etc. The Game Mods
    5. 5. Game Representations <ul><li>Object? Artifact? System? Entity! </li></ul>
    6. 6. Game Representations
    7. 7. Context: The Games & Supporting Materials
    8. 8. Context: Cultural Materials
    9. 9. Context: Artifacts of Participatory Culture <ul><li>Library of Books in Ultima Online </li></ul><ul><li>Stars of Intrepid Wiki in Star Wars Galaxies </li></ul><ul><li>Live Event Chat Transcripts in Matrix Online </li></ul><ul><li>How Am I For Time? </li></ul>
    10. 10. Library in Ultima <ul><li>Books were collected </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ … on the Catskills shard of Ultima Online. They were gathered sparingly from the inception of the server by a character named Stilgar of the Shadow Rangers until 1999 and in earnest [by Mr. Bacon] in 1999 and 2000” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ These obviously represent a small slice of the books that were written in game. Many books on Catskills were behind locked doors and their owners inaccessible. Many books before I started collecting in earnest were lost. I myself had small collection decay while trying to move them from a smaller house to a larger one. And obviously many years have passed since I was collecting. (I heard that the person’s house that I had left them to may have decayed so my offline copies may be the only that remain) Also there are many, many more shards than just Catskills with book collections of their own.” </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Library in Ultima (Characteristics) 24 Directories 717 Books
    12. 12. Intrepid History Project (1) <ul><li>Wiki to collect and preserve: </li></ul><ul><li>“ This website is for sharing your memories, sharing your thoughts, and sharing your friends. Hopefully it manages to get enough community support so we can all dig through the memories. Even the vets want to be transported back to the magic that once was. There are many historical things that happened on Intrepid. We also have our own fair share of server legendary events. Share your dreams of times past and contribute to saving Intrepid's history.” </li></ul>
    13. 13. Intrepid History Project (characteristics) <ul><li>1,403 pages </li></ul><ul><li>19 sections </li></ul>
    14. 14. Matrix Online (1) <ul><li>Much more personal vision of player experience </li></ul><ul><li>Use of HTML rather than wikis to preserve content similar to Stars of Intrepid </li></ul><ul><li>Centralized web site for Matrix Online live event transcripts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I don’t think Matrix Online has guild-like entities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Any community built around this site is created by site content alone </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Matrix Online (2)
    16. 16. Tectonic Shift <ul><li>Production and authorship </li></ul><ul><li>Dissemination </li></ul><ul><li>Concept of authoritative content </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing importance of contextual information </li></ul>
    17. 17. Thanks! [email_address]
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