Interactive Media & Games Seminar Series

A few weeks ago I attended one of the lectures being given at Stanford University as part of the Interactive Media & Games Seminar Series. Every Friday at noon, this seminar presents open lectures for students, staff, and faculty who want a window into the sometimes esoteric world where games and academia collide. I was initially going to summarize the lecture I attended (given by HTGG’s own Henry Lowood!), but as all of these lectures are made available online, it is just easier to copy and paste the links….I mean it makes more sense to provide access to the actual lectures.
Also, if you’re a Stanford student, this seminar is listed as one-unit course BIOE196. So next time you get any grief for playing games instead of studying, you can casually point to this course listing as proof that those two activities are sometimes the same thing.




It's on: Game Histories from MIT Press

Raiford Guins and I just received some great news: MIT Press has given the proverbial greenlight to the "Game Histories" book series that we proposed to them. We are absolutely delighted to be the co-editors of this series, which will kick off with two collections of essays, to be followed by a series of monographic studies, probably 2-3 annually.
The first two titles in the series will be Debugging Game History: A Critical Lexicon, which Ray and I have been co-editing, and Zones of Control, co-edited by Matt Kirschenbaum and Pat Harrigan. We expect that these books will serve as foundational collections for game history and the history of military simulation, respectively.
Finally, we expect to begin soon the process of reviewing full book proposals for "Game Histories." The goal is to publish single-authored books in the series starting in 2017, after the two above-mentioned titles appear next year. Of course, the exciting bit in a project like this is seeing what prospective authors come up with. We can’t wait to start!

Mass Media

This month I decided to try and make a giant poster that showed all the different format types that are present in the Cabrinety collection. I've gone through 6,000+ titles so far and found 21 unique kinds of software media. Since I keep discovering more it seemed like the poster would never get done. So instead of waiting for it to be complete and perfect, and possibly too big to ever upload to this site, here it is in all its glory:

Media Types in the Cabrinety Collection

I expect the caption text might be too small too read on this version of the poster, so this is what it says:

First Row (L-R): Atari 400 cartridge, Sega Game Gear cartridge, Intellivision cartridge, Commodore 64 cartridge, Vectrex cartridge, Atari 2600 cartridge

Second Row (L-R): ColecoVision cartridge, Atari 7800 cartridge, computer disc (3.5"), Atari 400 cassette, Sega Card

Third Row (L-R): TI-99/4A cartridge, Tandy Color Computer cartridge

Fourth Row (L-R): Atari 5200 cartridge, Sega Genesis cartridge, Nintendo Entertainment System cartridge

Fifth Row (L-R): Computer disc (5.25"), Super Nintendo Entertainment System cartridge, IBM data cartridge

Sixth Row: Sega CD




Past Lives

Many lifetimes ago I worked for a video game enthusiast magazine called Tips & Tricks. It featured several strategy guides every month and also printed thousands of cheat codes. When the magazine was still alive and kicking, there was a short Wikipedia entry describing it and all of the employees. Upon a recent check I saw that this entry had gone the way of the dinosaur. This was a bit of a letdown, but also a wake-up call that for something to be preserved, someone needs to advocate for its inclusion in the historical record.
Enter Roger Burton, the Editor-In-Chief of Game Losers, a website devoted to covering underreported sports and video game stories. A former reader of Tips & Tricks, he was curious about the history of the magazine, and thanks to the aforementioned lack of information on Wikipedia, he decided to track down many of the old writers and interview them, including yours truly.
So if you are interested in reading about my sordid history as a video game journalist way, way, waaaay back in the day, Burton’s “A Comprehensive Oral History of Tips & Tricks – The #1 Video-Game Tips Magazine” has got you covered.

California Extreme 2014

California Extreme: The 18th Annual Arcade & Pinball Show was held from July 12-13, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara, CA. This is a show where collectors who own classic arcade cabinets and pinball machines bring out their wares for the public to play firsthand, giving a new generation of gamers the opportunity to experience very old titles like Space War or Computer Space. It’s an excellent value with all of the machines set to free play, and the cost of entry only $30-40 a day for one adult. The Saturday show ran from 11am until 2am the next morning, so any gamer with the stamina could play for 15 hours (more if s/he paid for early entry.)


The last time I attended California Extreme was about a decade ago, and what I remember most vividly about that experience (aside from the fact that someone had to sleep on the hotel room radiator) was that I played a lot of Slick Shot, and that it wasn’t nearly as crowded as I was expecting. There was space to roam around, and a lot of the machines I wanted to play were open.

Cabrinety-NIST Project Challenges - SCA AGM 2014 Presentation

I gave a short talk recently at the Society of California Archivists Annual General Meeting, during the panel session, "What the Hell Is It, and What Do I Do With It?: Cataloging Challenging Collections." My talk focused on the challenges associated with working with the Stephen M. Cabrinety Collection, specifically in relationship to the Cabrinety-NIST grant. The slides from the presentation are available on slideshare.

Stanford University Libraries acquire MUD1 source code

The Stanford University Libraries have acquired the source code files for the first on-line virtual world, MUD1.  
MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) was created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw in 1978 at the University of Essex. It was a text-based multi-user environment inspired by and loosely based on then recent text adventures such as The Colossal Cave Adventure and Zork.  MUD remained in continuous existence for over twenty years and also spawned a variety of other MUDS, related classes of games such as MOOs (Multi-User Dungeon, Object-Oriented), as well as 2D and 3D game and virtual worlds. It is still possible to play a version of the game today via the British Legends collection.
The donation of the source code files follows an earlier donation in 2004 of Dr. Bartle's papers related to MUD1, which areavailable for research in the Department of Special Collections at Stanford.  With the generous permission of Mr. Trubshaw and Dr. Bartle as the copyright-holders for MUD-1, Stanford will be allowed to provide on-line access to the MUD1 source code files - details will be forthcoming.

Copy That

Here at Stanford, the Cabrinety-NIST project is nearing the end of its two-year term.  In addition to migrating data from original media and creating photographic documentation, a major aspect of the final phase will be to find and reach out to copyright holders who own the rights for software in the Cabrinety collection. Although we have made contact with some of the major publishers, there are still a significant number of titles for which we have not been able to identify rights holders. Discovery of rights holders is a difficult and time-consuming process.  For many of the items in the Cabrinety collection it has been nearly impossible to determine whom to contact. As a result, we are publishing this open letter here on the HTGG blog.

Game Developer's Conference 2014: Days of Future Past


This year’s Game Developer’s Conference was the most attended in the history of the conference, with more than 24,000 people descending on the San Francisco Moscone Center from March 17-21, 2014. There was something for everyone. If you wanted a hands-on experience, the MADE (Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment), the Videogame History Museum, Wild Rumpus, and the Indie MEGABOOTH showcase all offered playable games in their exhibit spaces. Feeling nostalgic about classic game titles? There were game postmortems for Zork and Robotron: 2084, plus a first-ever studio postmortem for Lucasfilm Games. Two of my favorite sessions from last year were repeated—the GDC Microtalks and the GDC Rants, where ten speakers are given about five minutes to talk/rant about a topic of their choice. If you wanted something a bit more in-depth, advocacy sessions and roundtables addressed complex issues ranging from gender equality to government funding to game preservation. The IGF Awards and the GDC Choice Awards honored game developers both old and new, and best of all, the GDC Choice Awards were hosted by a woman for the first time—Abbie Heppe, who is the community manager at Respawn Entertainment, and who I coincidentally worked alongside many years ago when we were both editors at Tips & Tricks Magazine.

Project archivist position in the Silicon Valley Archives: Papers of Gordon Moore

If you are interested in an opportunity as a project archivist in the Silicon Valley Archives, please visit and search for position 61637.  You can apply for the position from there.
Processing Archivist, Gordon Moore Papers, Stanford University Libraries, 61637. 
Stanford University, Department of Special Collections -- Manuscripts
Title: Project Archivist, Gordon Moore papers
JCC: Associate Librarian (3P2), 100% FTE; 1-year, fixed-term appointment
Reports to: Head, Technical Services--Manuscripts
The Moore Project Archivist is responsible for reviewing current organization and metadata for the Gordon Moore papers (approximately 150 linear feet of manuscript and audio-visual material). The incumbent will be responsible for recommending access and delivery strategies based on privacy and preservation and copyright issues. The archivist will organize and describe the papers while also reviewing and screening for sensitive and restricted material. The archivist will work closely with the Head of Technical Services/Special Collections and the Curator for the History of Science & Technology, and on an as needed basis, with the donor or representatives (Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation), the Chemical Heritage Foundation or Intel Corporation.
MANAGE: The Project Archivist is responsible for the appraisal, arrangement and description (cataloging) of all formats of material in the collection - through a variety of programs, as well as publication and dissemination. Materials in these collections range from paper-based (photographs, notebooks, papers, meeting notes, correspondence, oversize materials, etc.) to audio, video, computer media, and digital files.

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