If you don’t read Game Politics, you should. Though Kotaku and Joystiq get more hits, Game Politics has become my most important source for information on how government and its citizens respond to gaming as a hobby or culture.
Today’s find is a newbyte on the Library of Congress’s push to preserve dying forms of digital information. Given the focus on the site, GP’s exaggerated focus on the single mention of “video games” in the LoC strategy summary is natural. It does raise an interesting question, though.
If we leave aside the technical emphasis of the LoC project (i.e., keeping old media forms legible and rescuing data from obsolete disks), what do you preserve, and why?
This is quite a different question from the Desert Island Disks question that Computer Games Magazine asks. Ye olde “What games do you take with you to a deserted island?” query is aimed at the individual gamer, and so largely depends on individual tastes. If the island has an internet connection, answers change dramatically.
But if the question is “Which games do you preserve for posterity?” the issue takes a completely different turn. Civilization IV is a much better game than the original Civilization but the original is one most likely to be preserved because of its seminal importance in the evolution of the strategy genre. Similarly, SimCity would be included in any list where Caesar III would likely not.
In its role as curator of America’s creative culture, the Library of Congress also maintains the National Film Registry, a list of movies considered central to the development of American society and the film art. There are now 425 protected movies, including material of historical interest like McKinley’s inauguration and the Zapruder film. So some of this stuff isn’t even entertaining.
What would a computer gaming canon look like? What types of technical and stylistic achievements should be noted for future generations?