British Library bid to preserve games

British Library bid to preserve games

By Rob Crossley

November 5th 2010 at 10:00AM

Plans afoot to help the National Video game Archive, â??at the very leastâ??

The world’s largest library is looking to preserve decades of video game history in the UK.

Paul Wheatley, a specialist in digital preservation at the British Library, says the library wants to build on the widely-commended work already done by the National Video game Archive.

“The games publishing industry recognises the value in preserving its computer games,” Wheatley said.

According to an interview with The Independent, Wheatley believes games published between the ‘70s and ‘90s are already being lost.
 
“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,” he said.

There is a circulating fear that the hundreds of games of yesteryear may be lost in history without record of their existence.

Such concerns were a key reason why, in September 2008, the National Video game Archive opened at the National Media Museum in Bradford.

But, according to the Independent, some industry watchers believe the government should make it compulsory for publishers to hand over a copy of new games they produce.

A similar law for print was passed in 1662, where book publishers were required to deposit a single copy to the British Library. This is central to why the British Library is the world’s biggest.

Wheatley, however, believes such an obligation to publishers “is not within scope at the moment.”

He added: "At the very least I would like the British Library to provide support to the National Videogame Archive based on this digital preservation expertise and I'm hoping we can collaborate further."