Critically Endangered small

Interactions and experiences of games and related interactive virtual worlds, representing a significant investment of skill and time by players, and significant elements of cultural output in the late 20th and early 21st century.

Group: Gaming

Trend: No change

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2017

Last update: 2018

Previously: Critically Endangered

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within twelve months, detailed assessment is now a priority

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on people and sectors around the world.

Effort to Preserve

Loss seems likely: by the time tools or techniques have been developed the material will likely have been lost.


Single player games, especially those which   feature significant player-character customisation and player choice, including Role-Playing Games (RPGS) such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Games that rely on unique peripherals to play, including rhythm action titles such as Guitar Hero.

‘Practically Extinct’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Complex hardware dependencies or bespoke hardware; dependence on obsolete, low usage operating systems; no emulation pathway; complex IPR; older magnetic media; free distribution on magazines; loss of underlying code or gaming engine; limited or no commercial interest.

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

emulation pathway; source code; trusted repository; large user community.

2019 Review

This is a subset of an entry made in 2017 for ‘Gaming’ which the Jury has split into four more discrete entries.  This entry for older games encourages greater consideration of the technical complexities which arise from preservation of software and hardware environments.  There is an active specialist market for older games which enable preservation but also skews it around commercial interests. The meaning of ‘older’ is open to interpretation but any game more than 10 years from release should be included here especially if there are more recent releases.

Additional Jury Comments

This is very closely related to the ‘Old or non-current video games’ item, but there are parallels with the online gaming platforms: how do we capture the experience of play? This is much harder than online gaming, where the social interactions occur in digital form. With appropriate selection, appraisal and preservation, we can capture some of this through ephemera such as gaming magazines of the 80s and 90s, for example, but much has already been lost. I’m focussing on the negative here – it is still possible to preserve design materials, developer interviews, sales data and games reviews, etc. but first-hand accounts of what it was actually like to play these games are rare.

By implication this category includes user generated content within games which is distinct from the game itself. For example, the National Library of Scotland was approached to preserve a Minecraft representation of Scottish cities. If you can preserve the game then preserving the user generated content should be straightforward. But it’s not clear who is doing that.

Scroll to top