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The barriers to the preservation of digital games: questions on cultural significance

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conference contribution
posted on 14.07.2009, 13:24 authored by Joanna Barwick, James A. Dearnley, Adrienne Muir
Digital games have become an increasingly visible and popular leisure activity in the 21st century. Despite this proliferation in our society, it seems that they are not valued as part of our culture in the same way as products such as film and music. Furthermore, digital games are a largely ignored part of our cultural heritage. Dismissed as “at best recreational, and at worst desensitizing and degenerate” (Neiburger, 2007, p. 28), they have not specifically been addressed in most of the academic literature on digital preservation and represent a serious omission in past research. This essay discusses this gap in the research in relation to evidence of the cultural significance of digital games, the potential barriers to their acceptance as part of our cultural heritage, and how this relates to the preservation of digital games as cultural artifacts. First, the current status of digital games in our society and the size and strength of the digital games industry is considered. Second, the current interest from academia in digital games is explored. Third, the current preservation activities and the limitations of these initiatives are reviewed. Finally, the barriers to the preservation of digital games in relation to their status as a new cultural phenomenon, their relationship to traditional institutions, and perceptions of their value in terms of selection policies for preservation are examined.



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  • Information Science


BARWICK, J., DEARNLEY, J. and MUIR, A., 2008. The barriers to the preservation of digital games: questions on cultural significance. Media in Motion: The Challenge of Preservation in the Digital Age, October 29, McGill University


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