What Retrogamers can teach the Museum


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Helen Stuckey, Flinders University, Australia, Nick Richardson, ACMI, Australia, Melanie Swalwell, Flinders University, Australia, Denise de Vries, Flinders University, Australia

Published paper: What retrogamers can teach the museum

The design of engaging digital access to collections and the creation of opportunities for richer collaborations with an informed online public are key recommendations for developing the GLAM sector’s digital future (Mansfield et al., 2014). This presentation discusses Play it Again’s Popular Memory Archive (PMA) (http://playitagainproject.org/), an online exhibition of Australian and New Zealand videogames of the 1980s, which is intended to elicit recollections from those who played their way through the era. We propose that curatorial practice of videogames can be advanced through an examination of the vernacular models and practices developed by online retrogame communities.

Play It Again is an Australia Research Council-funded game history and preservation project focused on locally written digital games in Australia and New Zealand in the 1980s. Researchers from Flinders University (Adelaide), The University of Melbourne, and Victoria University (Wellington) are working in collaboration with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision (formerly the New Zealand Film Archive), and the Berlin Computerspiele Museum.

In October 2013, we launched the Popular Memory Archive, an online collaborative research portal and exhibition. The site provides a way to disseminate some of the team’s research, but as important, it provides a mechanism for collecting information, resources, and memories from the public about 1980s' computer games. Conceived of as both an exhibition about local games and a research tool that capitalizes on participatory culture, the online archive is an example of what a local collection of games might look like and how Museum 2.0 might work with online knowledge communities. It addresses the need to look beyond the conservation of the physical objects to document the experiences of play, as well as a sense of the social and cultural reception of these works.

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