Double Buffered

A Programmer’s View of Game Design, Development, and Culture

Archiving Virtual Worlds

Posted by Ben Zeigler on March 12, 2009

Via episode 2 of Robert Ashley’s absolutely brilliant “A Life Well Wasted” podcast (best described as This American Life for video games), I was introduced to the “How They Got Game” project at Stanford. Basically the goal of the project is to try to archive and document the history of Virtual Worlds. Instead of just archiving the software (which is largely pointless for MMOs), the focus is instead on things like in-game-replays, transcripts, videos, and etc. The goal is to treat Virtual Worlds exactly like you treat the real world, so people can look back in 100 years and see what the online world was like. An example would be the last moments of EA-Land (previously Sims Online).

Episode 2 of ALWW features a 10-minute except from an interview with Henry Lowood, one of the chief historians on the project. Robert also put together interviews with a Pinball archivist and a private collector of misc. gaming stuff, but I loved the Virtual Worlds section and was hoping for more. Luckilly, Robert just posted the full interview, and it’s great. Robert is a very competent interviewer and Henry is a compelling speaker, so it works out really well. If you’re at all interested in the social nature of Online Games, you should definitely give it a listen.

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