There’s A Symposium Going On

by wsampson

The place to be is UTA 1.208 (the large classroom) in the UTA building of the UT Austin campus, at 1616 Guadalupe, on Friday, October 8.

The presentations are open to all, so come have a seat if you can! There will be questions too. The agenda:

Disciplines Converge: Representing Videogames for Preservation and Cultural Access

1:00 PM Bonnie Nardi (University of California at Irvine)
The Many Lives of a Mod
The concept of “mod” (software modification) is deceptively simple. Starting with a thought in a player’s mind on how to improve a video game, the activity of modding ramifies to problems of power, law, culture, inequality, and technological evolution. Even an expansive concept such as participatory culture does not capture the lives of a mod which enter wider arenas of activity at corporate and national levels. As we write game history (the project of ethnography) and preserve digital artifacts (the project of preservationists) is there a way to move the two projects more closely together to provide future generations more theorized representations of video games?

2:00 PM Henry Lowood (Stanford University)
Video Capture: Machinima, Documentation, and the History of Virtual Worlds
The three primary methods for making machinima during its brief history—code, capture, and compositing—match up neatly with three ideas about how to document the history of virtual worlds. These linkages between machinima and documentation are provocative for thinking about what we can do to save and preserve the history of virtual worlds in their early days. As it turns out, they also suggest how we might begin to think about machinima as a documentary medium.

3:00 PM Jerome McDonough (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Final Report of the Preserving Virtual Worlds Project
This presentation will provide a summary of the findings from the Preserving Virtual Worlds project, a collaborative investigation into the preservation of video games and interactive literature by the Rochester Institute of Technology, Stanford University Libraries, the University of Illinois and the University of Maryland.  This research was conducted as one of the Preserving Creative America projects sponsored by the Library of Congress’ NDIIPP program.  The summary will touch on issues of intellectual description and access of games, collection development, legal issues surrounding game preservation, the results of our evaluations of preservation strategies, and a discussion of possible further research agendas within this arena.

4:00 PM Megan Winget (University of Texas at Austin)
We Need A New Model: The Game Development Process and Traditional Archives
This presentation will relate findings from our IMLS project focused on the video game creation process. Data includes eleven qualitative interviews conducted with individuals involved in the game development, spanning a number of different roles and institution types. The most pressing findings relate to the nature of documentation in the video game industry: project interviews indicate that game development produces significant documentation as traditionally conceived by collecting institutions. This documentation ranges from game design documents to email correspondence and business reports. However, traditional documentation does not adequately, or even, at times, truthfully represent the project or the game creation process.

In order to accurately represent the development process, collecting institutions also need to seek out and procure versions of games and game assets. The term version here refers to formally produced editions of the game (the Xbox 360, Wii, Playstation 2, and Nintendo DS versions of the same game, for example), as well as versions that are natural byproducts of the design process, such as alpha and beta builds, vertical slices, or multiple iterations of game assets. In addition to addressing the specifics of the game design process, this presentation will make the case for developing new archive models that accurately represent the real work of game creation.