Video Game Play Capture Project

Launched in 2011 with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, ICHEG's Video Capture Project is part of a multi-pronged response to the challenge of preserving video games. ICHEG staff and co-op students from Rochester Institute of Technology’s game design program have developed methods for accurate video capture of games from original hardware systems and have tested and recorded game play from thousands of games in the museum’s collection.

While complementing a variety of preservation techniques used by ICHEG and other preservation organizations, video recording of game play helps viewers understand the nature of that game play in ways that screen capture photographs cannot. Similarly, video of games being played on original hardware captures the nature of the original games more faithfully than video of games being played on emulators.

Often, video capture is the only means for preserving game play, and fortunately it enables the preservation of game play in a wide array of electronic forms, from console and computer games to arcade games and handheld electronic devices. For example, Massively Multiplayer Online Games may not be playable once the servers that run them are shut down and the player communities disappear, and ICHEG has enjoyed success in capturing that type of game play as well.

Through video capture, ICHEG is endeavoring to ensure that even if the original artifacts themselves are no longer functional, their content will be preserved for future generations to study and enjoy. ICHEG plans to continue the Video Capture Project to the maximum extent that funding will allow, but additional financial support for it will be required.

Additional Video Game Preservation Activities

ICHEG partners with researchers, organizations, and institutions that study the migration and format-shifting of games from sensitive media to more durable storage devices. Among these are the Library of Congress, the Game Preservation Special Interest Group of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), Ritsumeikan University in Japan, and the Internet Archive. ICHEG staff serve as advisors on projects such as the Preserving Virtual Worlds Project conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Stanford University, University of Maryland, and Rochester Institute of Technology.