Library Journal recently interviewed GSLIS Associate Professor Jerome McDonough in an article about the preservation of video games. McDonough is the principal investigator on the Preserving Virtual Worlds II project, which aims to build upon the findings of the original PVW project and create a set of best practices for digital preservation. PVW is a multi-institutional project with partners at the University of Maryland, Stanford University, and Rochester Institute of Technology, and is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
On September 17, Rockstar Games released Grand Theft Auto (GTA) V, the latest entry in the studio’s 16-year-old franchise of sprawling, open-ended, and controversial video games…Within three days, it sold over $1 billion worth of copies worldwide, making it the largest entertainment launch—of any type—in history, according to Forbes. Whatever one’s position on the merits or faults of GTA V’s profane, violent caricature of modern America, its popularity alone basically cements the game’s status as an influential cultural artifact of the early 21st century. With expected sales of 25 million copies, it is almost difficult to imagine that in as few as ten years, it will be impossible for historians to study the game in its original form. Its multiplayer online mode and other online features will stop working as soon as mainstream popularity inevitably dissipates and Rockstar decides to shut down the game’s servers.
“When you see things like Call of Duty 2 raising more money in the first weekend of its release than just about any major motion picture that’s come out in the past decade, this is a significant cultural and economic force,” McDonough says. “And you are starting to see more and more people who are involved with gaming to one degree or another, particularly digital games. This goes across all age groups, genders…. It’s important to preserve knowledge of these games and their evolution so that people can understand their place in the culture at this time.”