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Now is the time to preserve video game history. Many of the pioneering designers who launched the industry are still alive, and can relate their experiences first-hand. Prototypes of the very first gaming systems can be identified and gathered from garages and offices before they are lost to fire, flood, or overzealous spring cleaning.

Thankfully, the Smithsonian has stepped in. In June 2016, the museum’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation announced the Video Game Pioneers Archive, an ongoing effort to save the stories—and the stuff—of the industry’s first years.

“There’s no industry that had the foresight to put together an archive of the people who did the creating,” research associate Christopher Weaver told The Seattle Times.

A committee of video game industry experts will help guide the projects. Eminent members of the committee include Steve Meretsky, who designed the groundbreaking interactive version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Sid Meier, the creative force behind the Civilization series, and Richard Garriott, designer of the Ultima series.

Job one is to record first-person accounts from industry pioneers. Over the next two years, the Smithsonian will conduct in-depth oral history interviews. Garriott will be the project’s first interviewee.

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