As a visitor it’s easy to overlook the amount of work that goes on in maintaining a videogame exhibition or collection. Jeff DiOrio’s interview with the Strong Museum’s Jon-Paul Dyson, the director of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) in Rochester, NY remedies this lack of awareness. Dyson outlines ICHEG’s five-fold process for caring for videogames,
The central thing that we’ve been concentrating on, initially, is collecting the physical copies of games and hardware.
But we recognize that alone is not (enough). The second thing we’re collecting are printed materials, or mass manufactured materials without the games. So this would be things like game guides, gaming magazines, ephemera that’s produced related to the games, that sort of thing. They give you insights into the games, how the games were played, how they were created, interviews with authors. Preserving those are really key, that’s why we’ve built this collection of over 10,000 video game and computer magazines.
Archival materials from developers are noted as the third portion, with the fourth being video capture. After all of the challenges in those areas is the final stage – code emulation and migration. This is a tricky issue considering online games, user generated content and a lack of commitment from videogame publishers.
Luckily measures from ICHEG, and Preserving Virtual Worlds exist to face the challenges. Fans themselves have also extensively documented the medium online through emulation and self-made game guides. The issues might even become better handled once art museums enter the fray with unique methods and ideas. After all, places like the Museum of Modern Art have an established record in caring for complex things.
The best thing for the medium is multiple efforts that cover a wide range of qualities. ICHEG clearly has that down. From this, visitors and scholars can come together in the history and culture of videogames.