Published on July 8th, 2022 | by Andrew Bistak

Australian cultural institutions unite to collect videogames

ACMI, the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) and the Powerhouse have announced the ground-breaking joint acquisition of the international smash hit multiplatform videogame Untitled Goose Game, created by Victorian developers House House and developed with assistance from VicScreen.

The joint acquisition ensures that Untitled Goose Game, awarded D.I.C.E. Game of the Year and BAFTA Games Award for Best Family and Social Game in 2020, is preserved for decades to come using the specialist skills and approaches of each collecting institution. It joins ACMI, NFSA and the Powerhouse’s growing collection of videogames and commitment to the research and preservation of games as an important artistic and design medium in contemporary culture.

With total interactive games and e-sports revenue in Australia expected to reach $4.9 billion in 2025, gaming remains a booming industry nationwide (Source: PwC’s Australian Entertainment & Media Outlook 2021).

The acquisition includes the game’s creative development materials, documentation and earlier versions to illustrate how ideas for the game formed. Backed by the collective expertise of ACMI, NFSA and the Powerhouse across exhibition, collection, design and innovation, the acquisition ensures that as technologies, curatorial practices, and preservation methods change, Untitled Goose Game will remain a key part of Australia’s creative history.

With curators and digital conservators from ACMI, NFSA and the Powerhouse implementing a collective strategic approach to acquisition, collection, preservation, storage and accessibility of Australian video games, the institutions will avoid duplication and help to build a distributed national collection that tells the evolving story of Australian videogames.

Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimopoulos said:
“Untitled Goose Game is a locally made, globally played sensation that all Victorians can be proud of. This initiative recognises the cultural significance of games as an artform, safeguards Untitled Goose Game for future generations, and celebrates the success of the talented team behind it.”

“We are backing our games sector as part of our $191.5 million VICSCREEN strategy, which will see even more success stories like Untitled Goose Game come out of Victoria.”

ACMI Acting Director and CEO, Graham Jephcott, said:
“As Australia’s national museum of screen culture, ACMI has been collecting and exhibiting videogames since its inception. While a film canister can last at least 70 years, a hard disk is lucky to last seven years without intervention. This joint acquisition with NFSA and the Powerhouse will enable us to preserve, play, research and understand the cultural importance of Untitled Goose Game long into the future.”

NFSA CEO Patrick McIntyre said:
“This acquisition shines a light on the creativity and success of Australian games developers and is a testament to the importance of the games industry in Australia’s audio-visual landscape. As Australia’s only national archive for AV culture, it’s our priority to collect, preserve and share gaming content that represents the local industry’s complexity and diversity. The partnership between ACMI, MAAS and NFSA plays an important part in our ambition to build and maintain a games and interactive media collection of historical, social and cultural significance that we can conserve for all Australians.”

Powerhouse Chief Executive Lisa Havilah said:
“Gaming is a thriving industry in NSW and its impact on popular culture is undeniable. Particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic, gaming has gained prominence as an enabler of connection. For the Powerhouse, it has strong potential for integration across all areas of museum programming. The museum looks forward to growing our national videogames collection under this unique partnership with ACMI and NFSA.”

House House Co-Director Michael McMaster said:
“We at House House are humbled to see our work join the collections of ACMI, NFSA and the Powerhouse. As game developers the question of videogames’ longevity and fragility is important to us, so we were surprised and grateful when these institutions offered to collect Untitled Goose Game. We’re glad to know that it will not only be playable for years to come, but that an understanding of its development process and cultural context can also be preserved. It’s heartening to see our game join the rich histories of Australian media and design contained in these collections –we feel our goose is in very safe hands.”

About the Author

When he's not trying to save the world, Andrew enjoys travel (although loathes turbulence), going to the movies, reading and being a dad to his two dogs (and now twins) with his wife.

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