I wanted to let you know that the Popular Memory Archive has launched, and is now open for
business! This is the work of my New Zealand and Australian game history and preservation
team, known as Play It Again. In it, you’ll find an exhibition on 50 locally written
computer games of the 1980s. You can read about our endeavours in the story/press release
below, or just check it out for yourself, at
Let the blogging begin! Upload your files! Contribute your memories!
Please help us to get the word out to those who are in the know about 1980s games
@AgainPlay & http://www.facebook.com/playitagainproject
Creating a piece of playable history
Games are one of the most significant cultural forms of modern society yet their story is
poorly documented in Australia and New Zealand, according to Flinders University Screen
and Media Associate Professor Melanie Swalwell.
Associate Professor Swalwell and her research team, together with colleagues from the
Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the New Zealand Film Archive and the Berlin
Computerspiele Museum, have now launched a project to document and preserve locally-made
computer games of the 1980s.
Funded by the Australian Research Council, the Popular Memory Archive (PMA) aims to
explore the story of the production and reception of local games, interviewing game
creators but also collecting resources and memories from the public who played their way
through the history of 1980s computer games.
“The game culture in the 1980s was highly participatory, hands-on and often characterised
by a do-it-yourself ethic which is why we are aspiring to create a history of games as
they have been used and experienced,” Associate Professor Swalwell said.
The material will then be collated and added to the Play it Again database – an online
portal of playable Australasian computer games, developed by the team as a method for
documenting and preserving these historic digital artefacts.
Dr Swalwell said the database would provide vital insights into Australia and New
Zealand’s early gaming history.
“Until recently, digital software in any form wasn’t regarded as something that should be
saved,” Associate Professor Swalwell said.
“As a consequence we have very little information about computer games, despite the
prominent cultural function they have in today’s society,” she said.
Flinders PhD candidate Helen Stuckey, who helped design the PMA, said there was no
official public record of historic computer games.
“Knowledge about the history of games is overwhelmingly held by private collectors and
fans, with ephemera and other primary sources located among the general public,” Ms
“Much of the existing work on the preservation of early games has been be done by
passionate and well organised online fan communities,” she said.
“The PMA in part looks at what institutions can learn from the practices of these
Featuring a curated selection of games, Dr Swalwell said the PMA will also host monthly
panel discussions with invited guests, including Australia and New Zealand game designers
of the 1980s, on a range of topics such as gaming pioneers, collectors and copyright.
“We want to hear what people did with early computers and games, what games they wrote,
what these games mean and meant to them, what records they have, and what difference their
involvement with games made.
“It is hoped these contributors will offer not only their experiences but also artefacts
in need of preservation, including images, videos and documentation about programmers,
designers and publishers, so that we can have a central, publicly-compiled repository of
During the 18-month project users will be able to submit comments, images, videos and
other files to the site.
Visit the website<http://www.playitagainproject.org> for more information or follow
the progress on Twitter @AgainPlay or at facebook.com/playitagainproject