April 3, 2009

Surveys on Recordkeeping in the Game Industry

by Nick Montfort · , 2:24 pm

Rachel Donahue of the University of Maryland, College Park is gathering information about records management and preservation of video games with a survey – two surveys, actually: One for those in industry and another for the gaming community. She’s seeking your responses now, as she’ll be presenting preliminary results at the end of the month.

21 Responses to “Surveys on Recordkeeping in the Game Industry”


  1. Answer Survey, Help Game Preservationists [Survey] @ Beezify Says:

    [...] Surveys on Record Keeping in the Games Industry [Grand Text Auto] [...]

  2. Jon Gainor Says:

    I think that while original consoles would be ideal, it is unreasonable to expect them not to break down over time, so I think we should back up physical copies with emulation as well. As far as criteria for the games selected I would recommend a trifold approach. Did the game score well in reviews? Did it sell fairly well? Is it highly regarded within the gaming community/culture at large? Then based on how well a game meets these criteria it would or would not be selected. As long as it meets two it should at least be considered. For example, Wii Fit would be included because it has sold tremendously well, and is prevalent in our culture. On the other hand, Psychonauts would be included for high reviews, and being held in high regard amongst the gaming community despite not selling millions of copies.

  3. Tobias Dodgen Says:

    Ms Donahue, I’m sorry that I did not get a chance to participate in your survey for the gaming community. I hope it produces valuable results, as I have been a gamer for more than 20 years. I am very concerned about the preservation of games, especially as the industry is making moves towards a download-only distribution model. I think that DRM and fuzzy ownership of content are issues that could damage the historical record of games. I hope that steps are taken so that at least culturally significant games are preserved for future generations to understand and enjoy.

  4. Ian Pinnell Says:

    Excellent study!

  5. Cresten ST.CLair Says:

    My most important games: Ico, Golden eye, Super Mario World.

  6. Michael Torres Says:

    We definitely need ways to preserve video games. There is so much art being put into every game, and it would be a terrible, terrible shame to lose the games, their stories, even their concept art. It usually takes a culture quite a bit of time to recognize the artistic value of any popular medium. If people are recognizing the importance of preserving video games now, I’d say we’re very lucky.

    PC emulation is probably the best way to go, but I also think each console manufacturer and game developer should set aside funds to preserve their own work. If the foundation of an outside source, completely separate from the business end of games, is necessary, then I think it should be created. Whatever needs to be done, do it.

    I have been playing video games since I was four or five years old. Books, film, and television all seem to be preserved well enough, but I’m afraid that video games, my favorite form of art and entertainment, will forever move forward, forgetting the past.

  7. Charles Martin Yamat Says:

    I believe that it preferred to obtain original copies of games and consoles. Although, it is understood that obtaining copies of such games may be difficult. In that case, the best idea is to have emulators to back up to the entire collection that is contained.

    For the criteria in which games should be inducted, the best way seems to be filtering content through three different categories. These categories are professional reviews, Impact/Significance to game culture, and it’s sales.

  8. brendan hutchins Says:

    Yay, I love surveys!

  9. Will Says:

    It seems obvious to me that emulation is the only realistic approach. However, I would like to see the controllers preserved (much more realistic than preserving the entire console). The user interface is a major part of the experience; using a universal controller would really diminish the experience of a preserved game. Moreover, innovations in controllers and in gameplay go hand in hand, Playstation introducing the first two stick controller that led to the universal adoption of contemporary first person controls, for example.
    I think this is a laudable project, however it is undertaken, but I hope that it proves possible to allow patrons to truly experience the games.

  10. Andrew Says:

    Awesome to see this up. It’s also advertised to do at the end of the IGDA Game Preservation SIG’s white paper on the need for preservation – worth a read if you’re a developer, and possibly even if a player :)

    http://www.igda.org/wiki/Game_Preservation_SIG/White_Paper/Before_It%27s_Too_Late:_A_Digital_Game_Preservation_White_Paper

    I’m not sure going by sales/”professional reviews”/impact are the 3 main ways to determine if a game is “important enough to preserve”. We’re in a position to preserve, to at least some degree, almost ever game made in history. There is little need to be elitist on the subject :)

  11. john Says:

    preserve Final Fantasy 7, Super Mario 1, 3 and Galaxy, mario kart, God of War and Little Big Planet!

  12. auouywonz Says:

    There’s a difference between emulation and piracy. Emulation is a means of playing old games on new systems. Piracy is taking those games and not paying for them. If given the option to have both a digital and tangible copy of a game, I certainly would take it, and purchasing a game basically gives you a license to that game… emulating it aslong as you have the hardcopy on the shelf next to you is fine.

  13. The Relic Says:

    Myself, it would be ideal to preserve at least one example (playable) of a console as well as a few games that would play on it, and rom examples of the rest of a console’s output. This may not be possible with disc based games since there are so many and the ability to store them may be next to impossible, so with them, outside of a few major examples (what typified the machine, for instance), film clips of the gameplay may suffice.

    ROMs may be the solution for arcade units as well, but a few examples of the arcade units would be imperative, as well as classic pinball examples. Equally important would be making sure that the various control schemes would exist (Tempest had a spinner/button scheme, Marble Madness and Missile Command had trackballs/buttons, Tron/Satan’s Hollow a trigger/joystick scheme, etc). Future generations should be able to see not only what we played, but how we interacted with what we played.

  14. Chris Says:

    Great idea :)

    Us Europeans haven’t been lazy either; take a look at the following link for information about KEEP, a european software preservation program.

    http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=FP7_PROJ_EN&ACTION=D&DOC=1&CAT=PROJ&QUERY=011f37a73b31:61ba:091d22f8&RCN=89496

  15. Will Frye Says:

    I suggest that all games be emulated. While a lot of games are bad or do not have any historical signifigance, There will always be people who like to play a certain mediocre game for one reason or another.

    Also the reason it is so easy to watch old movies is because the wizard of oz is not exlusive to sony dvd players.
    It would be very beneficial to the industry to have a universal console.

  16. Andrew Says:

    Planescape Torment, and Oblivion, just so we can show future generations how graffics and hype are meaningless.

  17. ShadowSkill Says:

    Pong
    Space Invaders
    Doom
    Duke Nukem 3D
    Wing Commander
    Super Mario Brothers
    The Legend of Zelda
    Metal Gear
    Final Fantasy
    Command & Conquer
    Half-Life
    Fallout
    Planescape Torment
    Sonic the Hedgehog
    Street Fighter 2
    Star Wars: X-Wing vs Tie Fighter
    Kings Quest
    Deus Ex
    Halo
    Devil May Cry
    Metal Gear Solid
    Grand Theft Auto
    Resident Evil

  18. Daniel Says:

    There are some incredibly beautiful games out there; Okami, Crysis and Portal to name a few.
    I’ve been gaming for nearly 15 years and the first system I myself owned, a Nintendo64, is still in perfect working order. I still whip it out from time to time to remember how games have progressed – in good and bad ways.
    It would be a shame for future generations to miss out on some real classics which we have seen, Golden Eye, Perfect Dark, Resident Evil, Dead Space, Half Life to, again, name just a few.
    I would be crushed if someone where to tell me, “Sorry, there’s no more Pacman.” Preservation is the way to go!

  19. Anon Says:

    For me the signifigance is whether or not the game is part of a series I like (most of my games are parts of serieses), if it’s thought of as good and (least of all) critics reviews. As for emulation, I’d only use it for an old game I can’t find anywhere else. Also, a game producer’s past games is very important in my interest. If a certain developers games bring huge interest to me, it’s really likely I might buy said new game. As for the future, we should at least keep our own games in one piece and hope companies can do the same.

  20. Huxley Says:

    It’s difficult to reasonably see how to define a game worth preserving. I would say it would be a better idea to preserve as much as possible (After all, isn’t it just as important to see where something went wrong as where a game did everything right?). Perhaps if various institutions collaborated with each other, allowing both focus and an avoidance of redundancy? Obviously every such institution is going to have a copy of Half-Life somewhere, but do they all need a copy of Hexen? If, for instance, the University of Maryland dedicated itself to preserving Genesis games, while let’s suppose the University of Rhode Island took care of NES games, the University of Reading in England did the Gameboy, etc. we might ensure better coverage than if one beleagured institution attempted to cover everything.

    The difficulty with emulation is ensuring the original control scheme is still available. Controls are the fundamental aspcet of gaming; it’s the first thing a designer should look at and they should never stop polishing. It defines how and what we play. There’s a vast difference between the old SNES controller and a modern 360 one, and while emulation may serve adequately for the former, I don’t see how it can with the latter.

    Also, of course, do the best possible to get companies on board with it. Perhaps coming up with an industry standard where a game is provided by the publisher for use in a body set up to preserve games would be one solution (Depending on how elitist the body is, it’d be easier to get them on board. If a company can say “Five of our most recent titles have been enshrined in the Videogame Preservation Society” they’ve got an incentive to be highly co-operative, if they had any reason not to in the first place.

  21. Darkflame Says:

    I only hope games that were truely revolutionary and defined genre’s get a look-in, even when another brand has been more successfull.
    Fredric Raynal’s “Alone in the Dark” being a specific example.
    Not only the first clear-cut survival horror game, but the first game to use 3D charecters projected at a perspective on static backgrounds. Making it a very important game, and influenceing thousands of games after it.
    It was also an important step forward in storytelling and game direction. (something almost all games before wouldnt have even had to think about….AitD had to think about camera placement not only for gameplay, but for dramatic and storytelling purpose’s too)
    It also got excelent reviews.

    Of course, thanks mostly to the lack-luster and poor support of the publisher for the follow up games, the brand never became as successfull or as well looked after as Capcoms Resident Evil games.

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