Saving Our History Before It’s Gone, Part 2

So we had our big fundraiser for the Videogame Archive last night and I figured I should post something about it while the memories were fresh in my mind.

I can’t speak to the event’s success at actually raising money for the archive (not being privy to that sort of information, at least not yet). However, if you were one of the attendees, you already know — as entertaining evenings go, the event rocked.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous as the evening began. It poured buckets in Austin in the hours before the event was scheduled to start, and continued to rain off and on throughout the night… at our outdoor event… on Richard Garriott’s unpaved property. Let’s just say it was muddy. The amazing thing? No one seemed to care.

That was partly because The Center for American History and University of Texas folks who did all the heavy lifting to make the event happen were organized, prepared and had backup plans for backup plans, so people weren’t inconvenienced TOO much by the weather. But more than that, I think everyone was excited at the legitimacy the event brought to gaming. I mean, this is a major university saying “Videogames are important.” And on top of that, the event brought an incredibly diverse group of people together, which is always entertaining. And there were some crazy “Zero G Mojitos,” whatever those are — I can’t really say, other than to point out that they’re highly intoxicating, which probably helped keep everyone’s spirits up as they got soaked!

Anyway, hundreds of people showed up to hang out, hear what was going on with the archive, play arcade games, eat terrific food, listen to terrific music from a band made up of game developers (and they were really good, despite that). There were a bunch of press folks with video crews talking to folks. The speeches were short (always a good thing!). And, oh man, was the auctioneer a pro — he had folks bidding on stuff like nobody’s business, so I know we raised SOME money for the archive. There were arcade games (including a VERY original old pong game, sent by Ralph Baer himself — Google him if you don’t recognize the name — that was as much fun as any game on the market today).

The high points for me were the sight of university types mingling with gamers… local philanthropists side by side with playtesters… movie people talking to game designers… Personally, I had a fine old time talking to Joe Garrity, the Origin Museum guy (he’s the Good Kind of Fan), along with a fellow I hadn’t met before, Stephen Emond, who’s written a book called “Ultima: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide” that has to be the most comprehensive history of the Ultima series I can imagine. I have to get a copy!

Really, though, I have to say the Auction was the biggest blast of all. There were so many great items available, and people really got into the spirit of the thing and bid way higher than I expected, being the cynic I am… Richard Garriott auctioned off a complete set of Ultima games from his personal stash, including (one of only 20 copies of) Akalabeth, the one Ultima-ish game I don’t own, darn it! THAT went for a ton of money, let me tell you, to one of the guys who made Red Vs. Blue, I think. Oh, and of course there was the little bidding war I got into with Lord British himself (whose bank account is just a WEE bit bigger than mine…) for possession of a collage of Denis Loubet artwork from Ultima Underworld. I HAD to own it and did, in fact, win — but only because Richard was being nice to me… It was that kind of evening.

Anyway, I realize this doesn’t really tell you much about the event, but I’m not a reporter. With luck one of the journalists who was there will post something more informative. I just figured I should post my impressions and have now done so.

11 Responses to “Saving Our History Before It’s Gone, Part 2”

  1. mattpeckham Says:

    Steve Edmund… Nope, nothing on him or Ultima or history or what you get (and what it means?) when you say “Banjo” backwards in the Amiga version of Ultima IV.


  2. lazarusledd Says:

    If you watched the Reebot, a CGI animated series, they had this character Phong.
    If the Guardian, the main hero, could beat Phong in a game of Pong =), then Phong whould answer his questions =D
    Look it up if you catch the time.

    At least your not like those yellow pages in England. They rip everything apart in their report. Even things that don’t exist.

  3. the wizard Says:

    Read your interview today on gamasutra

    Making all the contributions publicly available will be kickass.

    The event sounds real fun with all the great food and the music played by the band.

  4. gshonk Says:

    I have already seen a few reports on different game sites. Seems like the word is getting out and people are excited about it. Congratulations.

  5. sonictail Says:

    It’s amusing that the launch of this project is occurred in Garriot’s Backyard. Don’t apologize for just giving us your highlights, your perspective is why we read this blog and if we want a report we can easily goto a news website.

    Please, keep it up!

    Also, have you asked yourself what you’ll do with the spare garage space this would theoretically free up šŸ˜‰

  6. wspector Says:

    Anyone searching for “Steve Edmund” can stop–it’s “Stephen Emond” and the book he’s written is called “Ultima: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide.” I’m going to go in and correct my post to reflect this in a minute. Sorry for the confusion…

  7. originmuseum Says:

    Thanks for the compliment Warren–I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me last Tuesday. Paula and I are elated to be playing a small part in your vision. Paula still laughs at the image of me reading aloud the transcript of your speech at the Launch event (back in March), and screaming, “YES!-YES!-EXACTLY!” between paragraphs! šŸ™‚

    I’m also extremely happy that you were the one that won the Underworld collage–During it’s creation, I was secretly hoping that it was YOUR office wall it would hang on. (…did you actually believe that the title ‘Games as Art’ was just a coincidence?) šŸ™‚

    –For anyone who didn’t get a chance to see it:

    Please let me know if there’s any more we can do for the cause!

    “…Preserving Worlds…”
    Joe Garrity
    Origin Museum

  8. cjovalle Says:

    I think the things you said just before the live auction were very effective at showing people the importance of this archive. I’m a staff member and doctoral student at UT’s School of Information (the one that produces archivists and librarians, among other types of professionals), and I was one of the green shirted folk there volunteering at the fund raiser. (There were a lot of us from the iSchool.) The creation of this archive is both timely and fascinating. I’m looking forward to doing research and trying to figure out the unique issues related to archiving games. ^_^ Thanks for everything you’ve contributed to its creation.

    And George, as always, rocked. ^_^

  9. psychochild Says:

    It was nice to see you again, Warren. I was one of the participants at Project Horseshoe who agreed that we should have an archive like this to preserve our history. So, thank you very much for lending your voice to support this initiative. I think that this is vital for achieving legitimacy for the industry, because without our history it’s hard to build a future.

    I thought the fundraising event was a lot of fun. It was awesome to meet fans interested in preserving the history like they have, particularly Joe Garrity.

    Anyway, I hope this is a sign of good things to come. Now to go sort through all the Meridian 59 stuff I’ve gathered over the last several years to send off to be preserved….

  10. The Artful Gamer · Interview with Stephen Emond, author of Ultima: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide Says:

    […] Warren Spector said on his blog that he’s looking forward to reading your book when it’s done – what kind […]

  11. Says:

    The Great Escape 2008

    I was surfing the net and i found your page, Nice topic there and it was great reading it

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