UT Video Game Hardware Conservation Capstone Project

This month, I am excited to report on my University of Texas School of Information capstone project that has grown out of work started last March at the University of Texas Videogame Archive by the then-UTVA intern, Matt Cepeda. My capstone focuses on both the preservation of and access to UTVA hardware, specifically gaming consoles and peripherals, such as controllers. It is hoped that the project’s components can be folded into future work regarding the entire archival life-cycle of video game collections, from accession to preservation and storage to labeling and cataloging to use by patrons.

Before describing my capstone, I must say a big “Thank You” to Matt for his work last semester that got my project off the ground. He provided numerous research leads that have served as spring boards for my literature review. Additionally, I was able to meet Matt in August for some last minute tips and advice. If you are reading this…Thank you very much Matt!

My project consists primarily of two major components. First, I have been conducting a literature review investigating preservation and conservation as related to video game hardware, including an in-depth look at the hardware materials, e.g. the plastics which comprise the hardware casing. The literature review also includes identifying other cultural heritage institutions that possess videogame materials as potential partners in this field and examining access policies and other ‘best practices’.

Second, I am working with Jessica Meyerson, Digital Archivist at the Brisoce Center, on creating a proof-of-concept check-out system/workflow to accommodate in-reading room research requests for UTVA hardware. We selected the Billy Cain Papers as the test collection because it contains videogame consoles that span many generations. Part thought experiment, part trial-and-error, we are brainstorming potential use cases for the UTVA and conducting stakeholder interviews with other members of the Briscoe including the reference and exhibition staff. For example, in the immediate future, I hope to shadow the reference staff as they serve researcher requests and retrieve items from holdings. With permission of course!

During the course of the semester, I will be providing updates about the project’s progress. I encourage you to check back with us!