Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who is responsible for the National Videogame Archive?
A: The NVA is a partnership between the videogame studies academics at Nottingham Trent University’s Centre for Contemporary Play and the museum and curatorial team at the National Media Museum.
Q: Why videogames? Aren’t they just toys?
A: This is one of the biggest creative industries in the world – bigger than Hollywood. We spend more on videogames than going to the cinema or renting DVDs, and games are a big net earner for the UK economy. But it’s not just about money. We invest huge amounts of our time on them as well, and fans lavish creative effort on finding new and innovative ways of playing them, sharing tactics and strategies, writing stories, making art, talking and discussing. This is one of the richest, most productive and prosocial cultures and involves people of all ages from all over the world. Although we are used to hearing tabloid stories about how videogames are little better than junk food, we know that they are clever, complicated, inspiring, brilliant things that encourage people into a whole wealth of creative activities that we rarely hear about. The NVA is about celebrating and understanding videogames and the part they play in the cultural life of this country.
And even if they were just toys, what’s wrong with that? Toys are important, too.
Q: What is remit of the NVA?
A: The short answer is ‘videogames’. The slightly longer answer is ‘not just videogames,’ because we think of them as more than code or plastic discs and cartridges. We’re interested in the cultures of videogaming as well as history software and hardware, so we want to collect advertising materials, boxart and packaging and the drawings, stories, songs and even games that players create in response to their favourite videogames and characters. The even longer answer can be found in the NVA’s Mission Statement:
The National Videogame Archive will collect, interpret, make accessible for study and research and, where possible, exhibit videogames and the associated ephemera paraphernalia of videogame cultures. The Archive aims to preserve, analyse and display the products of the global videogame industry by placing the games in their historical, social, political and cultural contexts. This means treating videogames as more than digital code that can be dissected and emulated or as a system of rules or representations. At the heart of the National Videogames Archive is a respect for the material form of the game as well as the boxart, manuals, advertising, marketing and merchandising materials that support it and that give it meaning and context.
In addition to collecting, curating and archiving these vital parts of popular culture, the ongoing collaboration between the National Media Museum and Nottingham Trent University is oriented around exploring and devising innovative and engaging ways to exhibit and analyse videogames for a general audience. This involves considering the interpretation and display of videogame experiences for diverse audiences that might include adepts and non-adepts alike, and exhibition in environments such as museum galleries which are not normally conducive to videogame play.
Q. Where is the National Videogame Archive?
A: At the moment, the work of the Archive is focused on assembling holdings of games, hardware and other aspects of game culture, and as we undertake this process there won’t be a permanent exhibition home for the NVA. However, holdings will be made accessible at a number of events and exhibitions around the country over the coming months. Keep an eye on these pages for news of the NVA’s initial activities.
Q: How can I get involved?
A: The first thing you can do is tell people about the NVA. We need to get as many people thinking about how important videogames are as we possibly can. If you need some ammunition to convince people just how important this stuff is, just click across to savethevideogame.org and see what the global development community thinks. At the moment, we can’t accept unsolicited donations to the collection. We would love to, obviously, and thanks for the offers, but the legal constitution of the Archive forbids it. Hold tight though, because we will be launching a public appeal for donations very soon. The announcements will appear on these pages and we’ll be doing a lot of publicity, so you won’t miss us.