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Immersion in Game Atmospheres for the Video Game Heritage Preservation

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The video game market is now bigger than the cinema market. This economic fact is the result of a continuous development. Indeed, while video games attract the kids, the number of adult players constantly increases. Thus, video games are taking part in our culture. The video game industry is now more than 30 years old and its cultural heritage is being preserved following two main approaches. On the one hand, there are a lot of virtual museums on the Web, and on the other hand, there are exhibits, but they are very rare. For example, there is only one permanent exhibit (in Berlin). The video game exhibits are very hard to set up because the hardware and the software can be too rare and can be broken down . This is why is it easier to do it virtually. On the Web, we can find information about every game: comments, screenshots, sounds, videos, etc. We can also find game copies and emulators to run them on new computers. This raises two main problems. 1. In most cases, it is illegal. 2. Emulation can reproduce the playing experience, but we loose the feelings and the game athmosphere. I previously dealt with the first problem in a book in 2001 (in French: Emulation et jeux vidéo) and in an article presented at the ICHIM 04 conference ( Here, I will focus on the athmosphere reproduction. The game athmospheres is one of the strongest souvenirs in the players' memory: the place, its arrangement, the light, the other players, etc. So the question is: how can we add this kind of athmospheres to virtual museums and real world exhibits? Our answer is to propose a virtual reality approach. Following the travelog method to record athmospheres, we have asked numerous players about their game experiences. We did it by using Web forums to take advantage of the discussion between players (some players add elements to other players' descriptions). Then, we have been able to identify typical elements of athmospheres. We have included these elements in a prototype that allows an immersion in game athmospheres. Our first two athmospheres are: a bedroom (in the mid nineties) and a game room (at the end of the eighties). This approach allows: immersion, manipulation, and information acquisition. Indeed, for example inside the bedroom, the user can catch a game cartridge, put it into the Super Nintendo, and get information about the game on the TV screen. Thanks to the technology we use (Virtools), these athmospheres can be accessed on the Web. This is a new way to access information about games. This is not like a fast database access; it is much more like a walk through game athmospheres that brings you to games you did not look for at the beginning. This project is also a new way to access the games of an exhibit. Information that you get can contain a map of the exhibit and where to find the game. * Pictures of this project can be seen here: * Note: this project is part the Inspiration project (
Contact: Nicolas Esposito, University of Technology of Compiegne, computer science,
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