As games become ever more tied to an online environment, the industry is struggling to find ways to properly archive and preserve the medium's incredible history. Fortunately, Australian creators are getting a little help in this regard thanks to the National Film and Sound Archive, which has announced that has begun the process of archiving all Australian games.
Eight Australian games have been nominated for preservation to begin with, ranging from the mobile narrative Florence, Team Cherry's Hollow Knight, and stretching all the way back to cassette tape games and one of the earliest games to be banned in Australia. The archiving is tied into the NFSA's hosting of Game Masters, an exhibition celebrating the medium of video games that will run for six months from tomorrow.
The National Library has no problem adding Call of Cthulhu games to their collection, so it seems only right that video games should get pride of place somewhere in Canberra.
- The Hobbit (Beam Software, 1982)
- Halloween Harry (Interactive Binary Illusions / Sub Zero Software, 1985/1993)
- Shadowrun (Beam Software, 1993)
- L.A. Noire (Team Bondi, 2011)
- Submerged (Uppercut Games, 2015)
- Hollow Knight (Team Cherry, 2017)
- Florence (Mountains, 2018)
- Espire 1: V Operative (Digital Lode, 2019)
The inclusion of Espire 1 is interesting because the game hasn't even technically launched yet: it was due for release earlier this week, but the developers issued a last-minute delay citing "stability and performance issues".
Regardless, the move brings video games into the NFSA's collection of more than 3 million items. "We aim to be the national leader in collecting multimedia and new media content, and it would be impossible to accurately represent modern life without games," Jan Müller, chief executive of the NFSA, said. "It is essential that games be collected alongside other audiovisual media, to ensure their continued preservation and access."
The games archived will not only be preserved long-term in a digital format, but their promotional materials, soundtracks, artwork, storyboards and pre-production art will also be saved. Preserving the games will also be a learning process for the national body, highlighting the difficulties around preserving modern games, long-term storage solutions for older mediums like cartridges, issues of copyright and expired licenses.
Once the initial eight games have been successfully archived, the NFSA will begin archiving other Australian games "on an ongoing basis". "We look forward to working with them as we develop solutions for long-term preservation of their work, for the benefit of future generations," Müller said.