En kultur utan arv, ett arkiv utan innehåll: ABM ur ett digitalt spelbevarande perspektiv
Sammanfattning: This thesis studies ALM-institutions, archives, libraries and museums, together as well as separate entities, from the perspective of digital game preservation. How do game preservationists view ALM-institutions? Since digital games are part of our modern day cultural heritage, should they be part of general cultural heritage preservation strategies, and therefore the responsibility of ALM-institutions? As a theoretical background I have studied the attitudes and ideas regarding ALM and digital preservation in general. Most of the ideas regarding ALM as a form of convergence or cooperation are based on the idea that the general digital development has blurred the borders between archives, libraries and museums, at the same time as the way these institutions used to perform their tasks no longer works in a digital world. There is a mix of ambivalence and optimism within the institutions themselves regarding the whole ALM idea. The different types of institutions do have differences after all, their different main purposes being one of them. These are the internal issues that are discussed, but there is also the matter of ALM in relation to the world in general. Archives especially seem to have problems when it comes to make the world outside ALM understand what they are all about, not only with regard to digital preservation, but also in general. Another matter I have used as a theoretical background is the temptation to come to conclusions regarding a contemporary matter based on a historical era. With regard to digital games one might be tempted to draw parallels between the development of these games and the development of early cinema. Using Lev Manovich’s ideas about cinema history and digital games, the conclusion I come to is that you can learn more from the work the historians have made while writing this history long after the fact, than come to any kind of reliable conclusion based on history itself. If we choose to learn from the mistakes that were made, we can save ourselves from a lot of problems later on. I am making a qualitative content analysis of a selection of texts that discuss the preservation of digital games and the participation of ALM-institutions in different ways. The main reason for preservation in these texts is that digital games should be regarded as part of our cultural heritage. Most of them also seem to take the participation of ALM-institutions for granted, despite the ambivalence that often is felt within these institutions with regard to any kind of digital preservation. ALM-cooperation is something that is regarded as desirable in many of these texts, but it is cooperation not only within the ALM world, but cooperation with the digital game industry, and gamers as well as ALM is what is regarded as ideal. The need for someone to take the overall responsibility for software preservation in general could be satisfied by ALM-institutions. However, some of these texts point out that this approach to the preservation of digital games is not practicable as long as the legal and technological obstacles that the industry’s attitude towards any kind of copying are bringing is not addressed and removed. My final conclusion is that something has to be done to address these issues, and soon. Time is already running out on the efforts to document the early history and culture of digital games in a reliable and unambiguous way. A culture that lacks reliable documentation, its importance can be questioned, and even its very existence can be so. To let this happen to digital games would be a great tragedy in the world of cultural heritage. Let us avoid it.
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