13599 – Ottumwa, Iowa?!?

Video Game Hall of Fame inducting Pac-Man and pals
What are the latest cultural artifacts that preservationists want to safeguard for future generations?
Pac-Man and his pals.
Though the era of video games is far younger than those of books and film, early arcade and home games of the ’70s and ’80s are rapidly deteriorating, breaking or being thrown away.
But as awareness about games’ influence on pop culture rises, “what comes hand in hand with that is the recognition that this is a heritage that is valuable and should be protected so things are not lost,” says Walter Day, a video game historian who is helping establish the International Video Game Hall of Fame in Ottumwa, Iowa.
The Hall gets its first class of 29 inductees ó including Pac-Man as the first game to be inducted ó this week with four days of ceremonies starting Thursday in Ottumwa. Other inductees: Donkey Kong creator Shigeru Miyamoto, Namco founder Masaya Nakamura, the Microsoft Xbox design team and competitive game champions Billy Mitchell, Steve Wiebe and Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel.
Why Ottumwa? In the early ’80s, the city’s Twin Galaxies arcade, owned by Day, emerged as a national destination for competitions. The arcade is now gone, but remains as a global video game scorekeeper.
Supporters hope the activities spur fundraising for a Smithsonian-style museum for the Hall ( The goal: to collect at least one each of the more than 100,000 coin arcade and home video games produced in the last 25 years.
Day and city officials liken the project to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. “This is something Tokyo, Los Angeles or New York should be doing, but it is Ottumwa that is stepping up and taking a swing,” he says.
Already existing archives and libraries are turning their sights to game preservation, too:
ï Home video games. The University of Michigan’s Art, Architecture and Engineering Library video game archive has amassed about 2,000 games for 20 different systems since opening in fall 2008. Faculty and students “are beginning to be interested in video games as an academic subject,” says archivist David Carter.
ïGame industry documents. The University of Texas Video Game Archive has a growing repository of publications, concept art, posters and extensive documentation from game developers. How games were created “is really important culturally,” says assistant professor Megan Winget.
ïVirtual worlds. University researchers at Illinois, Maryland, Stanford and the Rochester Institute of Technology are researching how to digitally preserve video games and online virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft. The project is partly funded by the Library of Congress, which has a growing collection of thousands of video games among its films and audio recording holdings. .
Says Preserving Virtual Worlds investigator Jerome McDonough of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: “If you can figure out how to preserve games, including some of the unusual input and control devices, you’ve gone a long way to figuring out how to preserve software in general.”