Page last updated at 13:40 GMT, Tuesday, 28 October 2008

A history lesson in video games

Digital Planet
Alka Marwaha
BBC World Service

A woman playing space invaders
The archive will chart the history of videogames from Pong in 1970 till today
The UK's first official national video game archive has been launched in a bid to preserve the history of gaming.

The archive has been set up in partnership between Nottingham Trent University and the National Media Museum in Bradford in the north of England.

The gaming industry is now worth an estimated 22bn globally and steps are needed in order to record its development.

The archive will be housed at the National Media Museum in Bradford and will include consoles, cartridges and advertising campaigns.

"We are going to be archiving video games but it's not just about the games themselves, it's also about gaming culture," said James Newman, from Nottingham Trent University's Centre for Contemporary Play, a research group dedicated to video games.

Charting culture

The archive will chart videogames from Pong in 1972 to present-day blockbusters.

Video games have become a key component of modern culture and of our social, creative and technological history.

A model shows the latest Nintendo DSi
The average age of gamers is increasing
"The National Videogame Archive is an important resource for preserving elements of our national cultural heritage," said Dr Newman.

"It's not just about cartridges and consoles, it's also about video game culture, they ways in which people actually play them.

"Unlike film and music, it's very difficult to walk into a retail store and walk out with a bunch of games from the 1970's," said Dr Newman.

He feels that games should be archived in the same way that music, books and film are preserved, as we often use them as markers in our culture and history.

"They are important parts of people's childhoods, and not even just childhood as the average age of gamers has increased over the years," said Dr Newman.

"Games influence film and television as well, so they are important parts of popular culture," he added.

Personal investment

"We invest enormous amounts in games as well, financially because we buy them and also in terms of time," said Dr Newman.

"We spend many hours playing them, more so than we do watching television or even going to the cinema," he added.

He said the team behind the archive was keen to avoid the mistakes of their counterparts in the film industry where pieces of historically significant material had been lost over the years.

"Games are tied to a particular piece of hardware, so as well as having a collection of Atari cartridges, we need the consoles to play them on.

We want to hear from people who really understand games
Dr James Newman
"We absolutely want to put the original hardware and software into the hands of players who haven't seen this stuff," he said.

The collection will be officially opened at the GameCity Festival in Nottingham on 30 October.

They have asked the creators of some of the world's best-loved games to make the case for the titles they think are worth saving and they want members of the public to do the same.

"What we didn't want to do was just assemble a bunch of industry luminaries and academics from games studies, sitting round and working out what the most important games were."

They are asking members of the public to submit 30 second video clips of the video game that they most want preserved in history.

"We want to hear from people who really understand games, from as many people as possible," said Dr Newman.

Tell us about your picks for the best video games ever. To find out how, click here.

And go along to the GameCity Festivalwhere submissions from the public will be invited.

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