National Videogame Archive - issues with preserving games for public display

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National Videogame Archive - preserving games for public display.

Detailed description

Wider Museum Context - 

The National Media Museum and the Science Museum group currently has no official Collections storage for complex types of digital media. The New Media Collection at the National Media Museum and the Computing Collection at the Science Museum contain over 1000 examples of computer software that is currently only stored on portable ‘lossy’ magnetic media such as cassettes, floppy discs, CDs and cartridges. The Science Museum Arts Collection and the New Media Collection contain several media art pieces that use a combination of digital video, visitor interactivity and live data. 

The immediate issue is to extract data from the lossy media to preserve it for the future, remove the need for operational original hardware which is likely to degrade and increase access to the public through research, galleries and exhibitions.

Software data then needs to be catalogued within the Collections database (MIMSY XG) and ideally able to be accessed easily by curators and the public. Software needs to be separate from original hardware so emulation is key.

Is software 'near death'?

Requirement to prove that old software is 'near death'.

Data extraction - 

Original data needs to be extracted from portable media urgently

Emulation - 

Which is better? Are they equal? Emulator ROM vs. original game data

What are trusted emulators? Trusted emulator ROMS?

What is the best software extraction tool? - Kryoflux

Long term future of emulation - 

Is software emulation sufficient as a long term solution? What happens when the base operating system is updated? Will the emulators need to be updated too? 

Virtualisation of operating system for flexible environment

Metadata - 

What additional metadata is required? Operating instructions, controller inputs, unique variables etc.

Visitor expectations - 

What are the expectations of different Museum visitors - researchers vs. casual visitor. 

How to make an automated, easy to use system for the Museum visitor - takes away the complexity of running separate emulators.

Issue champion
Tom Woolley 

Other interested parties
Any other parties who are also interested in applying Issue Solutions to their Datasets.

Possible Solution approaches

Extracting data from portable media at risk

Link data to MIMSY

Develop emulation platform that can support various formats

Create list of reliable emulation platforms and supporting information

Develop dedicated visitor friendly emulation archives with individual control mechanisms for different platforms/games

The Museum already has a secure, backed up repository for digital images and video. A similar networked drive should be set up for complex digital objects. Costs for a 1tb networked drive are a one off fee of £2000. Ideally, the digital objects should link to the MIMSY database and provide an easy reference mechanism to view the actual object in it's original, accurate environment.

Copyright would need to be sought for public display.

Lessons Learned
Notes on Lessons Learned from tackling this Issue that might be useful to inform digital preservation best practice

Reference to the appropriate Dataset page, by hyperlink. Note that all Issues MUST be linked to at least one Dataset!

Reference to the appropriate Solution page(s), by hyperlink.

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