Peter Mühleder
University Library Leipzig. Researcher

Tracy Hoffmann
University Library Leipzig. System librarian

Video games as a resource in Japanese Studies

Video games are an important cultural and economic part of the contemporary Japanese media landscape and as such they cannot be ignored in the research on contemporary Japanese society and culture. Despite that, the availability and access to video games provided by university libraries is still very limited.

Video games provide many challenges for libraries, be it technical problems, the lack of authority vocabularies or archival practice. Furthermore, as E. Aarseth and C. Gorden argue, a ‘video game’ can both refer to a cultural object as well to a cultural process. Research on Japanese video games have to take both aspects into account and therefore, the aim of Leipzig University is to provide a comprehensive research environment for Japanese video games: 

  • The jGames Lab provides a physical space where a large collection of Japanese video games (~4500 home video game titles from 2003-2015) is made available for research and educational purposes. 
  • The project diggr (Databased Infrastructure for Global Games Culture Research) aims to provide the cultural contexts in which games are embedded via collecting data from various online databases (institutional databases, fan communities, social media, ...).

In our presentation we discuss the practical aspects of creating a research space within the University Library Leipzig for research on Japanese video games and gaming culture. Furthermore, we elaborate on legal challenges that arise with archiving and providing access to videogames as well as collecting video games data online. Finally, we provide some concrete examples how both the jGames Lab and the resources of project diggr are used in research on Japanese media cultures and discuss unsolved problems and future challenges when dealing with Japanese video games from the perspective of a research library.