Warren Spector believed video game history needs to be preserved for future generations and has called upon publishers, developers, and gamers to be the “cultural gatekeepers” of the medium.
Speaking with Gamsutra, Spector compared gaming’s history with that of the early days of film and television, where large chunks have been lost to the ages due to negligence and in some cases indifference.
“Unlike earlier media, like film and television, which were born at a time when historians and academics tended to focus on an established canon of ‘important’ works and ‘great men,’ video games were born at a time when the cultural gatekeepers were more open to new ideas, new thinking and new media,” he said.
“Where the early history of film and television has been largely lost thanks to industry indifference and academic ignorance, we have a chance to preserve our history, before our pioneers pass away, our design documents, marketing materials and beta builds disintegrate or get trashed, and our hardware deteriorates to the point of inoperability.
“The fact is, over the last 40 years or so, we’ve seen the rise of the first new medium of expression and communication since the rise of television and not to preserve our history would be a crime.”
Spector feels most developers consider games development as “ephemeral, [and] not worthy of preservation,” and can’t see a point in saving a design doc, a first draft of a game schedule, or even a T-shirt handed out at E3 as a game promotion.
The biggest threat to preserving our gaming history, though, according to Spector, is the lack of funding for such a venture.
“The issue is money,” he lamented. “These institutions are fighting for survival in a down economy and an age of cuts to academia. They need support. If they get it, our past is secure. If they don’t, our history will be lost like that of so many media that came before us.”
Spector was speaking with Gamasutra as part of a larger feature called Selecting Save on the Games We Make which can be read in full through the link.