The UK’s first official National Videogame Archive is being launched in a bid to preserve the history of a global industry now worth an estimated £22bn. Formed by academics at Nottingham Trent University and working in partnership with the National Media Museum in Bradford, the archive will recognise the significant contributions made by videogames to the diversity of popular culture across the globe - from the humble beginnings of 1972’s ‘Pong’, to the blockbusters of the 21st Century.
The new archive will be housed at the National Media Museum and will be managed, steered and researched in collaboration with Nottingham Trent University’s Centre for Contemporary Play. The Centre draws on academic strengths across a range of disciplines, including psychology, cultural studies, art and design and computer science. In return, the Museum will provide the best levels of care and stewardship for the archive.
In addition to a treasure trove of consoles and cartridges, the archive will collect and gather a broad range of items from across the industry. It will encompass the wider cultural phenomenon of videogames by documenting advertising campaigns, magazine reviews, artwork and the communities that sustain them - the overall aim being to collect, celebrate and preserve this vital cultural form for future generations.
Dr James Newman, from Nottingham Trent University’s Centre for Contemporary Play, said: “The National Videogame Archive is an important resource for preserving elements of our national cultural heritage. We don’t just want to create a virtual museum full of code or screenshots that you could see online. The archive will really get to grips with what is a very creative, social and productive culture.”
He added: “It will not only be a vital academic resource to support growing disciplines in videogame studies but will also be something that the general public can fully engage with.”
With popular new videogame releases already resembling Hollywood blockbusters, videogame buffs are keen to avoid the mistakes of their counterparts in the film industry where countless pieces of historically significant material have been lost forever. Procedures and practices are now being carefully developed to deal with the collection of materials and artefacts for this new archive.
Paul Goodman, Head of Collections & Knowledge at the National Media Museum, said: “The archiving of these important artefacts presents us with some real challenges, not least in the area of preservation. We must balance the necessary conservation requirements of these materials, with the need to allow the public to understand and interact with them both now and in the future, which is really the cornerstone of what we are trying to do.”
The National Videogame Archive will be launched at this year’s GameCity 3 festival in Nottingham, for which Nottingham Trent University is the lead partner. The three day event is set to attract videogame enthusiasts, developers and publishers to a range of activities taking place across the city and at the main festival venue, Gatecrasher nightclub.
Iain Simons, Director of GameCity at Nottingham Trent University, said: “This year’s festival is going to be huge. We’ll be opening up the world of videogames for everybody to experience and the launch of the new National Videogame Archive will be an important feature for this year’s event. We’ll have special guests from the industry with us, along with world-record breaking attempts, keynote speeches and lots, lots more.”
To find out more about GameCity 3, go to www.gamecity.org
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The Centre for Contemporary Play, Nottingham Trent University
The Centre brings together inter-disciplinary projects from across Nottingham Trent University with an interest in gaming - encouraging knowledge transfer between the university and the gaming industry. The Centre for Contemporary Play is responsible for the running of the annual GameCity festival.
The National Media Museum in Bradford, West Yorkshire opened as the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in 1983 and has since become one of the most visited UK museums outside London. The museum houses permanent galleries, temporary exhibition spaces and three cinema theatres including IMAX. The National Media Museum is part of the National Museums of Science and Industry (NMSI) family.
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For more information visit www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk
Now in its 3rd year, GameCity celebrates the world of videogaming by drawing on the strong links between the city of Nottingham and the videogame industry to form an annual festival of interactive entertainment that isn’t just for gamers. It is a unique partnership which is led by Nottingham Trent University and includes the Department for Education and Skills, the East Midlands Development Agency and the Greater Nottingham Partnership. The aim is to deliver a videogames festival in the same way that we have other kinds of art festivals – in multiple venues for different kinds of audiences at different times of the day.