Last week I attended the third POCOS Symposium, which focused on the preservation of computer games and virtual worlds. This event seems to have coincided with a growing disatisfaction with the state of preservation of this significant part of UK culture.
I gave a short presentation at POCOS3, in the midst of an impressive line up of game experts that concluded with an inspiring talk from game supremo Ian Livingstone (he of Fighting Fantasy Books, Games Workshop and Eidos fame). I wasn't able to be anywhere near as entertaining as my fellow speakers, but was able to announce a new initiative that the British Library is now taking forward in partnership with the National Videogame Archive.
We are in the process of creating a new web archive special collection that will focus on games, gaming culture and the broader impact of gaming on society. An emerging theme from the POCOS event was the importance of digital information that relates to the actual games themselves. This includes blogs about games, reviews, player/enthusiast authored walkthroughs, FAQs, and so on. In a legal climate that makes the acquisition and preservation of the games themselves almost impossible, content which captures the gaming experience becomes even more vital. Most of this material is of course published to the web, and so a web archiving solution provides an ideal way to capture it and then preserve it.
The new special collection will be managed by experts from the British Library and the National Videogame Archive who will begin by developing a collection policy and then start selecting target websites to archive. The collection is expected to grow gradually over the next couple of years and result in a body of gaming material that will compliment the National Videogame Archive's existing computer game collection at the National Media Museum in Bradford.
My colleagues at the UK Web Archive have also blogged about this new videogame special collection here.