Purdue University Graduate School
Dissertation Final Hibbard.pdf (2.16 MB)

Preserving Play: Archival Practice in Queer Game Studies

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posted on 2021-07-26, 11:19 authored by Lee W HibbardLee W Hibbard
This dissertation investigates archival work concerning the history and preservation of queer games and play experiences. Current scholarship in archival practice, queer history, and game studies focus on archival methods, the history of games in general, or the queerness of games in the present, without a specific focus on the intersection of archives and preservation of games and play experiences. This study therefore asks the following questions: What efforts are being made in game studies to preserve the history of games and those who play them? What do those methods look like in comparison to an archive of queer games constructed by and concerning the experiences of queer people? What can game studies do to more accurately preserve and lift up the voices of marginalized groups in gaming culture? To answer these questions I developed a six move methodology that interweaves interdisciplinary areas, including archival practice, queer theory, games history, and the lived experience of the author as a queer and transgender individual: 1) Weaving methodological strands together; 2) Defining a transparent method for insider research; 3) Decolonizing and redefining axes of marginalization; 4) Integrating queerness, game studies, and interdisciplinarity; 5) Turning to the archives; and 6) Enacting and maintaining activism, advocacy, and community. The study conducts two case studies examining efforts in archiving and preservation to lift up the voices of marginalized people, taking place at the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, and the all-digital LGBTQ+ Video Game Archive, respectively. The cases find that both archives engage in efforts to preserve queer gaming history to not only preserve history but look to the future and how to best serve marginalized populations. This occurs through collaboration between communities and sharing resources between archives and examining the interaction between the Strong and the LGBTQ+ Video Game Archive provides insight into practical methods for preserving and lifting up marginalized voices in gaming history, including larger archives providing resources to assist smaller archives with access and long-term storage. Collaborative efforts to preserve specific queer video games such as Caper in the Castro provide specific examples of the two archives working together towards ensuring queer game history is preserved and accessible to scholars and gamers in the future. Highlighting the collaborative work and connections between the case studies demonstrates that the methods in use to preserve queer history rely on queer archival practices like community interaction and collaboration to best serve marginalized communities in the preservation of their histories and experiences


Sullivan Award


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • English

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Patricia Sullivan

Additional Committee Member 2

Samantha Blackmon

Additional Committee Member 3

Bradley Dilger

Additional Committee Member 4

Bo Ruberg

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