Creating Standards for Descriptive Bibliographic Records of Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games

Elizabeth Corbett-Nicholson, Christopher Harry, & Meaghan Uyede

Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMORPGs) are virtual communities of players from all over the world, composed of persistent worlds that are constantly changing even when a player is offline. Existing research in Game Studies notes the challenges of documenting and preserving persistent worlds due to issues of accessibility to proprietary code as well as the changing nature of these worlds. The Preserving Virtual Worlds Project notes the near impossibility of preservation due to copyright restrictions on the code. However, current bibliographic standards have adapted headings and categories of textual records for use with video games. Yet these do not provide the granularity needed to properly capture variation between “performances” of different games. Philip Gaskell and Fredson Bowers both present bibliographic concepts that allow comparison through documenting edition, impression, and state. At the meeting point of these three areas lies a descriptive standard for MMORPGs that can capture unique elements of these games during their active lives. How to preserve digital objects is an emerging trend, and incorporating bibliographic standards will assist preservation efforts. Our presentation will have three sections focusing on: the challenges of preserving virtual worlds, descriptive bibliography, and our methodology and the application of standards to MMORPGs. These are connected to our central theme of creating a standardized bibliographic description to aid in the preservation of active virtual worlds. Each of us will present one main element, concluding with the model we developed, and then open the presentation to questions and discussion.