Video game

Preserving the past: What's at stake for the future of game preservation – The Michigan Daily

Over the past few years, video games have become one of the biggest media industries in the world, reportedly toppling film and sports from their thrones in terms of overall revenue. The rise in popularity has led to an increased interest in preserving games, but this hasn’t always been the case. According to Dave Carter, video game archivist, comics librarian and reference services co-coordinator at the University of Michigan’s Computer and Video Game Archive, “40 years ago, people weren’t thinking about preserving this kind of stuff. Video games were a passing fad — a passing fad that’s lasted for 50 years.”

The Computer and Video Game Archive is an interactive archive for students, faculty and researchers that preserves video games, consoles, controllers and other gaming-related materials ranging from the 1970s to the most recent generation of consoles. Their focus has always been equal parts access and preservation, but over the course of the CVGA’s closure due to the pandemic, the focus shifted mainly to preservation. 

Video game preservation is a complex undertaking. There are over 8,000 games in the CVGA, and archive manager Valerie Waldron has had to learn the ins and outs of each one of them. He worked on about 1,000 games over the summer. The process of game preservation varies, but the goal is simple — make sure a game is as accessible as possible. Whether that involves cleaning cartridges, restoring art or safely storing source code, game preservation is different depending on the individual item.


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