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downloads of games which are no longer commercially available. If the developer is also
the licence holder (which is no longer common) they are more likely to allow the free
copying of the program. Many early computer games were written by single program-
mers, working from home. Authors of early computer games tend to be much more lib-
eral in allowing free downloads for non-commercial purposes, and developers tend to be
more interested in their games still being played than in making further profit from
them. In these cases the authors retain the Intellectual Property Rights, and can continue
to exploit their work commercially as well.The variance in copyright law in different
countries is likely to be one of the archive's more difficult obstacles.
In any case, the archive only offers games with the express permission of the licence
holder.There are not many games available at the moment
, but the archive staff antici-
pates that the gaming industry will come to recognise its responsibility to the cultural
memory of society, and the place of games in our social fabric. So far, the gaming industry
has shown little interest in archiving the digital gaming tradition.The main reason for this
is the dynamic nature of the gaming marketplace. Companies have no staff available to
carry out non-profit-making tasks. Many companies have short lifespans, and as a result
much information has been lost in this way.
Library, archive and registration systems, which
are usual for other media, have not yet emerged
in the game sector, and it is not easy to find the
code or even the licence holder for a game
which is older than five years, with the excep-
tion of blockbusters such as Tetris or Pac-man.
The game programs themselves are currently
stored on a server; the archive staff realise that
this is not an ideal solution. One of the main
reasons why DiGA was founded was to develop
a best practice solution for the storage and
maintenance of legacy gaming software.To help
it develop its expertise and infrastructure it hopes to attract project-based funding for
research in the cultural area. At the moment DiGA is funded by private investment and
propelled by the idealism and know-how of its members, but it is working to establish a
regular stream of funding.
Case Study II Virtual Nagoya Castle
Virtual Nagoya Castle is a shared virtual environment which has been developed as part
of the Orbis project.The castle becomes a meeting point for English and Japanese speak-
ers whose aims are to learn each other's language. Users take on 3D humanoid forms and
their avatars walk around the virtual landscape, receiving language lessons and testing
their progress with other visitors.
Before `entering' the castle, the first step is to download a collection of VRML files
from the Project Orbis Website.These files are held on the user's own computer in order
to achieve optimal performance from the virtual world. In addition to the Nagoya Castle
Games Technology
The Digital Game Archive at the Games Convention,
Leipzig, August 2002
e Digital Game Ar
111 There are currently five games available (14/02/2003)
112 This case study is based upon material from the Webpages of the ORBIS project,
(, and,
visited on 22/01/2003.