Endangered large

Massively Multiple Online Gaming is an evolving, transient but significant cultural. Gameplay is referenced here particularly as means of participation, along with social media and in-game interaction between players. Video streaming of game content, the means of viewing but not participating in game play, has a septate entry.

Group: Gaming

Trend: no change

Consensus Decision

Added to List: new entry

Last update: new entry

Previously: Critically Endangered

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within three years, detailed assessment within one year.

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.


There are numerous examples for this entry, so the example of Fortnite, a 2017 free to play online game will serve to illustrate. As Fortnite is freely accessible to play, the game is at the forefront of internet culture with over 250 million registered users as of March 2019. In addition, Fortnite's parent company, Epic Games, provides access to Unreal Engine, a software platform consisting of integrated tools for game developers, with instructional guides, game simulations and learning tools. Unreal Engine was first released in 1998 and is currently in its 4th release. At risk also is this software, its associated tools and code which is key digital evidence of MMOG evolution, learning, creativity and expression across multiple platforms (PC, console, mobile).

‘Critically Endangered’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Controversies around IPR; lack of offline backup; changing business model of providers; limited recognition of value of game play; over dependence on goodwill of ad-hoc community; lack of preservation know-how at service providers; dependency on bespoke hardware or interfaces.

‘Vulnerable’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Well documented code; IPR supportive of preservation; large and committed user community

2019 Review

This is a subset of an entry made in 2017 for ‘Gaming’ which the Jury has split into four discrete entries. By creating this entry for Game Play, the Jury encourages greater consideration of the technical complexities which arise from preservation of software environments as well as the cultural and historic value which these games are likely to acquire. It appears that this entry is categorised as a lower risk than in 2017, but this is a function of splitting that entry.

Additional Jury Comments

The difficulty of saving game play nicely encapsulates why video recordings of (online) gameplay is important: we are never going to be able to recreate the experience of playing something like World of Warcraft or Fortnite at their peak (or at their inception, or at any other point in time). They will never have the same configuration of subscribers, to say nothing of the innumerable changes made to the software over the years, which have significantly altered how the game works and looks. Loss is inevitable, and it’s already happened. The social and cultural aspects of play are incredibly important and on-screen recording is the most robust way to capture that.

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