The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) has announced today that it has started an initiative to collect and preserve Australian made videogames. The initiative was announced at the new Canberra exhibition of Game Masters. On show from September 27, 2019, through March 9, 2020, the Canberra exhibition is the latest showing of Game Masters.
Game Masters is “an interactive journey through five decades of video game history, offering both a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process behind the world’s most popular characters and franchises and a chance to play them.”
Having already worked on Game Masters, it makes sense for the NFSA to expand its preservation and archiving of video games. The NFSA has recently updated “its strategic priorities” which includes the collection and storage of “new media content.”
This includes videogames.
Australian Made Video Games
An initial collection of eight games has been selected for preservation and include titles released from 1982 to 2019. These games have been released on cassette tape, mobile device, VR headsets and more.
Jan Müller, CEO of the NFSA, said;
Today we welcome video games into our collection of more than 3 million items. The collection represents the cultural diversity and breadth of experience of all Australians, and it is constantly evolving just like our creative industries.
We aim to be the national leader in collecting multimedia and new media content, and it would be impossible to accurately represent modern life without games. It is essential that games be collected alongside other audiovisual media, to ensure their continued preservation and access.
The eight games selected in the initial collection are;
- The Hobbit (Beam Software, 1982)
- Halloween Harry (Interactive Binary Illusions / Sub Zero Software, 1985/1993)
- Shadowrun (Beam Software, 1993)
- L.A. Noire (Team Bondi, 2011)
- Submerged (Uppercut Games, 2015)
- Hollow Knight (Team Cherry, 2017)
- Florence (Mountains, 2018)
- Espire 1: VR Operative (Digital Lode, 2019)
Müller explained that the “initial selection spans almost 40 years of gaming history.” He went on to say that these eight games provide a unique look at the “over and evolution” of videogames in Australia. They also present an opportunity to “identify the archival challenges in preserving the different technologies employed – both software and hardware.”
The first collection of eight games includes long-term digital preservation and the archiving of available “storyboards, artwork, soundtracks and publicity materials.”
The NFSA hopes that these eight games will provide a blueprint for collecting and storing videogames including “what components and documentation must be collected in order to paint a complete picture of the game’s creative process from concept to finished product.”
It will also identify challenges around software and hardware obsolescence, long-term storage and access, rights and proprietorial platforms, etc., to inform the ongoing preservation strategy.
Once this initial collection of eight Australian made videogames has been collected and stored, the NFSA will collect Australian made videogames on a regular basis.
Game Masters is open from 10 am-4 pm daily from September 27, 2019, through March 9, 2020. Tickets are available here.