Digital Preservation Program Makes Awards to Preserve American Creative Works

Interactive media are highly complex and at high risk for loss as technologies rapidly become obsolete. The Preserving Virtual Worlds project will explore methods for preserving digital games and interactive fiction. Major activities will include developing basic standards for metadata and content representation and conducting a series of archiving case studies for early video games, electronic literature and Second Life, an interactive multiplayer game. Second Life content participants include Life to the Second Power, Democracy Island and the International Spaceflight Museum. Partners: University of Maryland, Stanford University, Rochester Institute of Technology and Linden Lab. —Digital Preservation Program Makes Awards to Preserve American Creative Works (Library of Congress)

I’ve been hoping for this announcement for some time.

A while ago Matt Kirschenbaum approached me to ask whether I’d be interested in applying my research in “Colossal Cave Adventure” towards a big digital preservation project. This is it.

The interactive fiction virtual machine is an excellent model for digital preservation. As each new computer system has come out, all one has to do is code up a new interpreter to run the virtual machine. So it’s possible to play “Adventure” on numerous platforms, from PDAs to cell phones. However, the recent editions of “Adventure” weren’t created with an eye towards historical accuracy, but rather to expose the games to a wider audience. There’s nothing wrong with popularizing an important text, but scholars do need access to accurate versions, so that they can accurately trace developments in the genre.

I’m not exactly sure what I’ll be asked to do for the project, but at the least I can write up a textual analysis of the various editions of “Adventure” (including an important version that has been considered lost for decades… but I need to wait a little longer before I say any more about that).

One of the components of the proposal was a virtual arcade within Second Life, where visitors could play emulations of classic games.