Whatever you think of contemporary video game journalism, it’s now being preserved for future generations.
The Entertainment Media Council — the association for business leaders in the video game industry — is building a non-profit media library to archive what it calls the “rich history of video games.” The library is starting with full-text content from online magazine The Escapist, which began publishing in 2005 and is a three-time winner of the Webby award for best games-related website.
The move is an indictment of the growth of the game industry to its current state, but it comes in the wake of last year’s controversial GamerGate movement, which participants claimed was about questioning ethics in game journalism. GamesBeat’s own Jason Wilson likened GamerGate to McCarthyism — the 1950s movement to root out communists in the U.S. — however, saying it was really about silencing voices and terrorizing women.
The EMC’s journalism library is for academics, journalists, PR professionals, librarians, and business leaders. While it will initially contain only articles from The Escapist, the EMC will work with other media companies to “procure, license, and index full-text historical and current editorial content about video games, such as news, reviews, criticism, and other writings.” Access to the searchable database will be available by subscription only. It’s expected to reach working prototype state within the year.
Similar libraries exist in other journalistic fields — like music journalism archive Rock’s Backpages and the historical British Newspaper Archive — but this is the first serious attempt to archive game journalism.
The EMC describes the library as a research database, saying it will yield far better results than a simple web search: “For many people, web search is an exercise in frustration. For professionals, there is a better way.”
The database collects content from specific publishers in a single place; it’s then curated by librarians “who ensure that every piece of content is clearly described with metadata,” according to the EMC.
EMC president and chief executive officer Morgan Ramsay says it’s an important move in preserving an iconic part of our contemporary culture. “We are losing our history,” he said in a statement. “Although the video game industry has become an essential feature of popular culture, until now there has been no compelling effort to preserve the journalistic lens through which we have watched this industry evolve. Our initiative, in cooperation with every media company that has played a role in the conversation about video games, will ensure there is a singular resource for serious research, for those who would remember our past to shape our future.”
Adam Silverman, senior vice president of business affairs for The Escapist’s owner, Defy Media, thinks it will benefit future generations of gaming enthusiasts: “The introduction of the EMC database provides a fantastic opportunity to centralize the history of the video game industry in a manner that will provide accessible information to journalists, audiences craving more content, and gaming enthusiasts for generations to come.”