Library of Congress announces grants for preservation of digital games

The U.S. Library of Congress has announced the recipients of a group of major grants in the new digital preservation program called Preserving Creative America (PCA). This program reprsents a new phase of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP).

The best news, for How They Got Game, is that we are part of this project. We will be participating as one of four primary partners in the "Preserving Virtual Worlds" project, led by the University of Illinois. Project teams are at U. Illinois, the University of Maryland, Rochester Inst. of Technology, and our group in the Stanford Humanities Laboratory, in close collaboration with the Stanford University Libraries & Academic Information Resources. "Preserving Virtual Worlds" will address three forms of game-related interactive media: early digital games (see the Digital Game Canon project for a list of likely candidates), electronic literature, and virtual worlds (Second Life).

So, what are we going to do?

A number of partners, from Linden Lab to e-fiction writers, will join the university partners to develop generalizable mechanisms and methods for preserving digital games and interactive fiction, working with several test cases from early game and electronic literature collections and sample projects in Second Life.

Major activities will include:

  1. assessing the different types of preservation problems posed by representative test cases Includes
    • developing a beginning framework for characterizing game and interactive fiction by preservation problem
    • assessing methods and potential sources for preserving complex interactive user-behavior
  2. developing basic standards for metadata and content representation, e.g.,
    • determining what types of information should be preserved to support future use of these content types, including emulation and migration and supporting existing preservation policies
    • developing recommendations for the use of existing wrapper formats
  3. investigating real-world archiving issues by ingesting several representative test cases into institutional repositories, including
    • implementation and testing of new metadata schema
    • further assessment of preservation problems posed by different content types

The main goal of the project is to help develop generalizable mechanisms and methods for preserving digital games and interactive fiction, and to begin to test these mechanism through the archiving of selected test cases. Key deliverables include the development of metadata schema and wrapper recommendations, and the long-term curation of archived cases.

Much of the Second Life work will be conducted at Stanford, and we also expect that the Cabrinety Collection in the Libraries will provide examples of game software that we will use for the preservation tests. Second Life content participants include Life to the Second Power, Democracy Island and the International Spaceflight Museum.

We are eager to enlist more partners interested in working with us to solve the huge preservation problem faced by interactive media such as games and virtual worlds.