ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage
JOCCH publishes papers of
significant and lasting value in
all areas relating to the use of ICT
in support of Cultural Heritage,
seeking to combine the best of
computing science with real
attention to any aspect of the
cultural heritage sector.
ever, this does not mean the games
industry can be expected to bear the
cost of games preservation. The success of the industry in securing fiscal
concessions at a time of widespread
austerity is evidence of the competitive imperatives in this industry, and
bears testament to the effectiveness
of their lobbyists. The barriers to entry in the games development domain
are now so low, and the infrastruc-tural requirements so minimal, that
it is relatively simple for studios to
set up for business anywhere in the
world, or to relocate from one country
to another in a way that is impossible
for traditional “smokestack” industries. The industry is in the middle
of a transition from selling relatively
expensive games on shiny discs in
shrink-wrapped packaging to providing inexpensively produced (and
priced) content for download from
the cloud. Not only is this shortening
supply chains and undermining the
business models of traditional companies, but it is leading to the emergence of new games studios that are
smaller, leaner, and more dynamic
than anything that has gone before.
It also means that any government intending to pass onto the games industry the costs associated with preservation will not be in a strong position to
impose its will.
There are a number of steps that
can be taken on an international level
that would do much to improve the
prospects of ensuring games preserva-
tion in the public interest takes place
without imposing undue burdens on
government or the industry. The final
report of the Blue Ribbon Task Force
on Sustainable Digital Preservation
sets out four key recommendations:
˲Leading cultural organizations
should convene expert communities to
address the selection and preservation
needs of commercially owned cultural
content and digital orphans.
˲Regulatory authorities should
bring current requirements for mandatory copyright deposit into harmony
with the demands of digital preservation and access.
˲ Regulatory authorities should provide financial and other incentives to
preserve privately held cultural content
in the public interest.
˲Leading stewardship organiza-
it is not legally safe
to assume every
the same protection.
this makes it
to carry out legal
due diligence on
the scale required.
tions should model and test mechanisms to ensure flexible long-term
public-private partnerships that foster
cooperative preservation of privately
held materials in the public interest.
To this final recommendation, I
would add the suggestion that the industry should be encouraged to make
available as much information as possible on the hardware and software
dependencies of their products. This
is neither commercially sensitive nor
difficult to provide at the time when
software is released. It is, however, absolutely vital in ensuring long-term access to preserved digital material, and
becomes increasingly difficult to uncover over time. It would be possible
to seamlessly incorporate harvesting
this information along with the details the industry already provides to
age rating agencies such as PEGI.
Announcing the games and animation industry tax breaks, U.K. Finance
minister George Osbourne told Parliament it was his intention to keep Wallace & Gromit exactly where they are.
With the proper level of cooperation
between the industry and government
it should be possible to save Wallace &
Gromit, Laura Croft (and the rest) for
David Anderson ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is the Ci TECH
Research Centre director at the School of Creative
Technologies, University of Portsmouth, U. K.