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Spanish video game history preserved by the National Library of Spain

National Library of Spain

The Spanish National Library, The Biblioteca Nacional de España, has taken to the task of preserving the rich history of Spanish video game development. 

The Library now provides videogames with the same level of cultural appreciation and treatment as literary and other cultural products. The Library’s new mission is now to collect and preserve the videogames produced in Spain, by the Spanish gaming industry.

Currently the Library has a collection of about 600 Spanish videogame titles, but the lack of support and recognition of the gaming culture has previously slowed down the research. Also, the Spanish Law on Legal Deposit did not name videogames, so the game companies have not provided the Library copies of their releases.

Director of the Library, Ana Santos, compared the situation to the National Library of France, which has a collection of over 18 000 French videogames.

“Although maybe we do not give them much value now, they are new materials that we must keep”, she says. 

Hence, new measures are to be taken to safeguard the long and rich history of Spanish game development. National Library of Spain proposes new legislation to help collecting and preserving the Spanish videogame heritage by providing a way for the game developers to deposit their creations to the Library. The Historical Heritage Act of 1985 will also recognize the importance of videogames as culture and art that should be preserved.

These and other measures have been promoted together with the Spanish Association of Video Games (AEVI), the Association of Users of Classical Computing (AUIC) and the Spanish Association of Companies Producing and Developing Video Games and Entertainment Software (DEV). 

“This collaboration will seek to articulate formally through a collaboration agreement, although they have planned some initial actions in order to move forward in those priority aspects and that it is possible to address”, the Library tells.

Future research will cover the detailed history of Spanish videogame development and publishing to identify games missing from the Library’s collection. The collection will also provide equipment to run the titles for research and study purposes. The research and preservation are assisted by the web curators, Spanish game collectors, researchers and digital archeologists.

Santos also wants to close the debate about whether video games are culture or not. 

“There are many theses about what the videogame means, especially in terms of sociological impact.”

“We are aware that it is a cultural heritage. The video game generates creation and culture and the National Library must preserve all those supports that generate it.” 

The National Library of Spain has preserved the Spanish memory for over three centuries. As culture changes and new formats emerge, the Library adapts and help to secure the Spanish culture, publications, websites, digital releases and other materials for the future generations.

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