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British Library looking at adding games to archives

by Pete Mason on 5 November 2010, 17:09

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Video games are - in some cases - starting to be considered alongside films and books as works capable of having artistic quality, and at the very least are a major part of British culture. In recognition of this, a representative of the British Library has announced that it is considering adding games to its massive archives.

There is a very strong history of game development in the UK, and the Library's digital preservation specialist, Paul Wheatley, believes efforts should be made to prevent it from being lost. According to the Independent, "the games publishing industry recognises the value in preserving their computer games and many in the industry that I've talked to could relay horror stories about old material disappearing or being left to gradually decay in a box under someone's desk".

Mr Wheatley also expressed an interest in working with the National Videogame Archive, commenting that "at the very least I would like the British Library to provide support to the NVA based on this digital preservation expertise and I'm hoping we can collaborate further".

The project was started in 2008 and is a collaboration between the National Media Museum and Nottingham Trent University. Its goal is to preserve and display a range of products of the global videogame industry in their social and cultural contexts.

The easiest way to ensure the preservation of British-made games would be to pass a law, similar to the one that has ensured that every book published in the UK since 1662 has been deposited with the Library. The latest version of this Act already has provisions for some digital works, including certain websites. However, though Wheatley would welcome expanding it to games, he believes that mandatory deposits are unlikely in the near future.  

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