The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) has announced that it will start collecting Australian video games for archival preservation. The announcement was made at the opening of the new exhibition Game Masters, which will be on show in Canberra from 27 September to 9 March 2020.
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.’
An initial list of eight games has been selected for preservation. They range from 1982 to 2019, across all platforms - from cassette tape to mobile devices and virtual reality headsets:
- 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)
Mr Müller explained: ‘Our initial selection spans almost 40 years of gaming history. It provides an overview of the evolution of the medium, as well as an opportunity to identify the archival challenges in preserving the different technologies employed - both software and hardware.
‘It has also allowed us to build relationships in this sector. Games creators have been excited by the concept and honoured to be among the first included, and the response from gaming professionals and peak bodies, Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) and Games Developers’ Association of Australia (GDAA), has been incredibly encouraging. We look forward to working with them as we develop solutions for long-term preservation of their work, for the benefit of future generations.’
Ron Curry, CEO of IGEA, said: ‘It’s very exciting to see a national collecting institution acknowledging the increasingly important role of video games in the life of all Australians. Games are a major part of contemporary popular culture; an artistic, storytelling and technological achievement, as well as an industry that contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to the Australian economy. We look forward to working with the NFSA as they start adding games to their vast collection.’
NFSA CEO Jan Müller and NFSA Games Curator Thorsten Kaeding are available for interview. For images and interviews, please contact Gabrielle Wilson, 0433 972 915, gabrielle [at] thepresssociety.com.au or Miguel Gonzalez, 0404 281 632, miguel.gonzalez [at] nfsa.gov.au.
ABOUT THE NFSA’S VIDEO GAME COLLECTION PROJECT
The NFSA has updated its strategic priorities to collect multimedia and new media content, including video games.
The first phase of video game acquisition includes eight titles ranging from 1982-2019, with long-term digital preservation of the games, as well as available storyboards, artwork, soundtracks and publicity materials.
This initial selection will allow the NFSA to explore 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. Following this phase, Australian games will be collected on an ongoing basis.
ABOUT GAME MASTERS: THE EXHIBITION
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. Featuring interviews, never-before-seen concept artwork, an amazing display of vintage consoles and collectable items, and 80 playable games, visitors won’t want to leave!
Game Masters was created and curated by ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image). The Canberra show has been updated with new games, including Submerged – a game produced by local company Uppercut Games.
The exhibition is open daily 10am–4pm from Friday 27 September 2019 until Monday 9 March 2020. Tickets are available online: https://www.nfsa.gov.au/gamemasters.