Do You Think Video Games Are Worth Saving?

We do!

Recently, news reports cited as wasteful spending a $US113,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to The Strong's International centre for the History of Electronic Games to preserve video games. We disagree. We believe video games not only are the most dynamic, exciting, and innovative form of media today but also an important form of play and a driver of cultural change.

Games sharpen people's ability to solve problems and overcome challenges. Games teach people to cooperate and to collaborate in new ways, whether that's in the same room or across the Internet. It's no wonder that schools, businesses, medicine, and the military are using video games to train tomorrow's leaders.

Game designers are also creating great art. Games charm, captivate, and amaze us, from the awe-inspiring wonder of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, to the whimsical fun of Angry Birds, to the subtlety of The Sims. Video games are influencing society just as much as novels did 200 years ago or movies did 100 years ago.

And yet, if we do not act now, many of the early electronic games and the record of their influence on society will be lost. Video games are stored in digital formats that don't last forever. The lifespan of tapes, disks, cartridges, and CDs is measured in decades, not centuries, and the software and hardware running these games are becoming obsolete.

At the International centre for the History of Electronic Games, we are working to preserve video games and a record of their impact on our society. We have assembled a collection of more than 36,000 video games and related artifacts; we are creating exhibits to tell their history; and we are preserving records of the people and businesses who create these games and the players who love them. In addition to that all that, the IMLS grant is allowing us to establish standards for preserving video games, to ensure we have the hardware and software to access these games now and in the future, and to record video of each of these games to capture their play.

This is important work. As the IMLS's Mamie Bittner noted, "Future innovation springs from the hard work and inspiration of the past. Technology changes quickly, and with changes, the work of entrepreneurs can be locked away and inaccessible. Can we imagine how researchers in the 22nd century will view the earliest groundbreaking interactive video? Without the work of institutions like The Strong's International centre for the History of Electronic Games the vitality and imagination of early gaming would be lost to future generations."

We don't think this should happen. So despite this recent criticism, we pledge to continue, and even to increase, our preservation efforts in the future. Like great novels, movies, music, and paintings of the past, video games are too important to lose.

Jon-Paul Dyson works for The Strong in Rochester, New York where he is Director of the International centre for the History of Electronic Games, Vice President for Exhibit Research and Development at the National Museum of Play, and Book Review Editor of the American Journal of Play. ICHEG has the most comprehensive public collection of video games and game-related historical materials in the United States, with more than 36,000 video games and related artifacts. Jon-Paul led the development of eGameRevolution, a permanent, 5,000 sq. ft exhibit on the history of video games at The Strong's National Museum of Play. He holds a Ph.D. in American History and is an expert on cultural history, children, and the study of play.


Comments

    Oh, Naaaaaaaah

    I don't see how video games aren't considered as important as novels, movies, music etc.
    There is just as much creative, if not more, effort put into a video game than these other forms of traditional media. If anything I learned more from video games than I did from any of these other forms of media (I learned to count from a counting game, maths from a maths game and problem solving from almost every video game) so there really isn't even an argument against the others being more important to development.
    In addition, what is the difference between making a virtual model of a character and making a real one? There is just as much time put into the thought and expression of each. I think video games are just the collaboration of every other art form, held in a virtual space and given to players to interact with these art forms, using that logic we should preserve all video games so that we may keep this art form alive for generations to come

    Cost a damn site more money to attempt to save the US auto industry which failed miserably. Interesting that when senators talk about wasteful spending they seem to pull up these odd nit pick things don't harp about, instead of something closer to home like say, the salaries of senators who spend their days pouring over old budgets to find odd things to whine about.

    On an article note, why is this one punctuated with the KOTAKU image every few paragraphs?

    KOTAKU image PADDING.

    it is logical from an anthropology point of view.

    Best thing to remember is that our parents and elders with restrictive mindsets will die one day, then we take over.

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