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Case studies
Case Study I ­The Computer Game Museum
and the Digital Game Archive, Berlin
The Computer Game Museum,
in 1996 by a group of enthusiasts who shared a
strong conviction that computer and video
games are much more than mere toys, opened
to the public in 1997. It was the world's first
permanent exhibition dedicated solely to
interactive digital entertainment culture.The
museum aims to offer consumer education for
users of computer and video games, to foster
a playful and creative approach to technology
in order to counterbalance its `dryness', and to
help potential users overcome this fear and
anxiety of the newest technologies. As the organisation has evolved it has focused on
encouraging the acceptance of gaming, and increasing awareness of how games and gam-
ing have become a facet of our culture.
The Museum has a collection of around 15,000 titles, complete with their original
boxes and manuals.The collections include almost all home computer and gaming sys-
tems. Additional material such as specialist magazines and ephemera are acquired to pro-
vide contextual material for researchers.The collection of original games is stored on
shelves in dedicated storage rooms, and relevant metadata is input into a database.
The Digital Games Archive (DiGA), established in Berlin in 2002 as a partner organi-
sation to the museum, is creating a unique digital game archive on the Internet. It
encourages the free download of commercial computer and video games, which have
been voluntarily deposited by the licence holders.The goal has been to preserve an excit-
ing segment of our digital cultural heritage, and to make this material accessible for future
At the moment the museum has freeware emulators for almost every hard-
ware platform, but this availability does not
completely ensure the future survival of the
games. It may be necessary to develop new
kinds of emulators, with a preference for those
developed in an open-source environment.
The archive has run into a certain amount
of difficulty with commercial game publishers.
Traditionally the publishers have more reserva-
tions about archiving and free downloads than
have the game developers themselves. On
occasion they have taken legal action against
so-called `abandonware' sites offering free
Games Technology
The Digital Game Archive at the Games Convention,
Leipzig, August 2002
© T
e Digital Game Ar
The Digital Game Archive at the Games Convention,
Leipzig, August 2002
© T
e Digital Game Ar
109 This case study is based on a questionnaire completed by Andreas Lange, founder and CEO of the Digital
Game Archive (, and director of the Berlin Computer Game Museum
( websites of both organisations were also consulted, and the
questionnaire was completed in early February 2003.
110 See for more on DiGA's goals.