April 12, 2006
Issue No. 71

Table of Contents

Got Game? Check Out What the Stanford Libraries Have

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by Henry Lowood

The last few years have seen an explosion in teaching and research having to do with interactive and digital media. One of the salient areas devoted to these new media has been game studies, that is, the academic study of interactive videogames, computer games, and simulations.

Epyx Thinker, an image used by Epyx, Inc. in 1980s for advertising/box cover art.
Epyx Thinker, an image used by Epyx, Inc.
in 1980s for advertising/box cover art.

The Libraries' Computer and Video Game Collection

In response to the academic demand for research and teaching materials in this new area, the Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources (SULAIR) offers valuable and unique resources. For example, SULAIR is building a selective collection of computer and video game titles in order to give students a feeling for the development of the technology. In Green Library's Media Microtext Center, the emphasis is on titles published since the early 1990s, though historical titles from the 1970s and 1980s are also included. The collection is especially rich in titles for the Atari 2600, Nintendo NES and GameCube, Sony Playstation and Playstation 2, Xbox, and PC. Consoles are available in the Media Center (located in the lower level of Green Library's East Wing) for running these games, and they circulate, as well. Titles acquired for this collection can be found via Socrates, with lists of selected titles for major platforms also available via the SULAIR Web site.

Historical Collection in Special Collections

SULAIR also holds one of the largest historical collections of interactive software in the world: The Stephen M. Cabrinety Collection in the History of Microcomputing. This is an historical collection of software, and it includes more than 20,000 game titles published from the early 1970s to the early 1990s. The collection is housed in the Department of Special Collections. An archival finding aid is available for the collection, although at present it lists only about one-third of the titles individually. An incomplete listing of game titles is also available, which includes selected scans of some documentation, box covers, and other printed materials, as well as information about the collector.

Archival Collections Being Acquired

SULAIR is also acquiring archival collections in the history of game development. An example is Richard Bartle's papers relating to the original MUD (Multi User Dungeon) game at the University of Essex. Information about these collections can be found either via finding aids or Socrates, as with other archival collections, as soon as processing is completed. Digital archives are available, as well, such as a collection of nearly 200 student papers from Stanford's annual course on the history of computer game design. Or check out the collection of machinima (game-based videos) that has been assembled in collaboration with the Internet Archive.

So, no excuses, get some game in the Stanford Libraries!

Related URLs

Source: Epyx Consumer Software Catalog (1985), Cabrinety Collection, Stanford University

April 2004 article in this newsletter (Speaking of Computers) on How They Got Game Project exhibits and events

Selective lists of video games holdings

Cabrinety Collection

How They Got Game Project (HTGG2), Stanford Humanities Lab

How They Got Game Project at Stanford Humanities Lab

History of Computer Game Design course, STS145

Student papers from STS 145

Machinima Archive, Filmmaking within real-time, 3D virtual environments

Fictional Worlds, Virtual Experiences Exhibit (Nov. 2003-March 2004)

Story Engines Conference (Feb. 2004)

Game scenes from Bang the Machine (Jan.-Apr. 2004)