Memory in the present: on video game preservation by fans in cyberspace

Watson, Lauren (2023) Memory in the present: on video game preservation by fans in cyberspace. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.


This thesis contributes to the vital scholarly analysis of contemporary retro video game preservation by arguing that games are currently preserved not by freezing them, but by transforming them. By extension, video games’ textual transformation characterises their cultural memory as a constant emergence. I will show this by analysing how games are distributed, contextualised, and then discovered within retro-game fans’ rogue archival networks, and how each aspect of these networks encourage a distinctly transformative, collaborative construction of retro-gaming cultural memory.

I begin by exploring fan-built retro-game distribution sites as digital archival networks which show the value that fans place upon the ability to actively play games, alongside how new media environments influence the construction of retro-game cultural memory. The second chapter then looks at extra-textual fanproductions and critical assessments of ephemeral aspects of gameplay concerning the Dance Dance Revolution (Konami, 1998-present) game series to show how games are contextualised across multiple fan-websites. The final chapter contains a case study of the Sega Saturn console system to assess how fans could, in future, discover retro-games in digital environments, contrasting it with the Saturn’s presence within traditional UK museum spaces. It finds that remix practices influence a spread of retro-game digital media across networks providing numerous points of access. With the proliferation of remixed, archontic productions across digital rogue archival databases and hyperconnected websites containing contextualising documentation, fans have constructed actively transformative, retro-game cyberspaces engaged in change-directed nostalgic memory-work.

The breadth of information involved in fans’ retro-game preservation (textual and extra-textual) is structured by a mediated reshaping of both the spatial and temporal qualities of retro-games, the active (re)experience of gameplay and decentralised conservation and distribution. Through reassessing fans’ emulationfocused preservation efforts by what they contribute to preservation, rather than solely inaccuracies or losses, this thesis introduces retro-game fans to the field of memory studies, and advocates for future research on their practices.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Due to copyright issues this thesis is not available for viewing.
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Supervisor's Name: Barker, Professor Timothy and Barr, Dr. Matthew
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83712
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2023 15:12
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2023 15:12
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83712

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