One of the resources we have created in the Preserving Virtual Worlds project is the Archiving Virtual Worlds video collection, hosted by our partner, The Internet Archive. This collection is a collaborative effort of the How They Got Game Project project team in the Stanford University Libraries and the Internet Archive, as part of the Preserving Virtual Worlds project funded by the National Digital Information Infrastructure Preservation Program (NDIIPP) of the U.S. Library of Congress.
So, what is the content you will find in this archive? It is dedicated to historical preservation of documentation of virtual worlds, ranging from in-world capture of events and activities to real world interviews with people who have developed or worked in virtual worlds. For example, you will find documentation of the last minutes of the recently closed virtual world, EA-Land.
I am pleased to announce that the collection is closing in on 200 videos only a couple of months after its launch, thanks in large part to two important additions of videos. The first is the remarkable collection of historical videos contributed by Bruce Damer, a pioneer in the effort to save the history of the technologies and communities of virtual worlds. Some of you may know of Bruce’s work on the history of virtual worlds, especially his book Avatars!, or his work on the Digibarn Computer Museum. The documentation provided by his collection covers a variety of virtual worlds going back to the mid-1980s; check out, for example, this amazing video footage on Habitat, one of several videos that at last make available views of this seminal LucasFilm project. (As a general note, use the streamed versions of the videos to get an idea of the content, but download video files to get the best quality. Some of the more recent captures are captured in HD quality and provide sharp images that provide legible chat and user interface text.) We are very grateful to Bruce for sharing his collection.
The second addition to the collection was provided by our project group and involved “embedding” one of our team members in the virtual worlds Second Life, World of Warcraft, and EA-Land over the past summer and capturing video of activities, events, and locations. This project developed out of conversations with our new project partner, Dyyno, about documentation of cultural heritage through media such as videos captured or streamed out of virtual worlds. Alex Degtiar from our project team (now a student at UC Berkeley, but we will not hold that against him) carried out the capture, rendering, and metadata creation tasks for more than fifty videos, all presented at high-resolution (again: use the downloadable files). He documented a wide range of activites, from the closing of EA-Land mentioned above to PvP play in World of Warcraft and popular sites in Second Life. We will soon be adding more material in this vein contributed by Dyyno, the State of Play conference, and myself.
The Archiving Virtual Worlds is already, shortly after launch, a unique resource for documentary video on the history of virtual worlds. We expect it to grow rapidly. Please feel free to contact me if you have videos you would like to contribute.
– Henry Lowood