“The Problem of Preservation: Let’s Play as an Archive” – Thomas Hale

In Chapter 1 of his dissertation “From Jackasses to Superstars: A Case for ‘Let’s Play,” Thomas Hale states, “One of the more long-term goals of LP is that it serves as a way to archive games and gameplay experiences” (9). Alongside issues such a the ability to procure older games, to afford new games, or to access games exclusive to only one particular platform, games are less accessible than other digital mediums. Thus, “LP offers a way to document these games and archive them for posterity” (10). Hale also makes not of the Let’s Play Archive which has been archiving LPs since 2007. Not dissimilar to the curation of Let’s Plays on Critical-Distance, the Let’s Play Archive works by submission. That said, the Let’s Play Archive will archive any submitted LP while Critical-Distance uses curatorial discretion. Additionally, Hale makes note of Senior Curator at Critical-Distance Kris Ligman’s concern that many of the LPs being archived show a bias toward “completion” and miss other important and personal performative observations. Next, Hale notes that while emulators are another method of game preservation, they are also not without fault as they can introduce differences into the game (11). Such difference are not in the LP of the original game. Thus, both preservation methods are important and work in parallel.

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