A screenshot of SimCity 3000, one of the games depicting London which are now part of the Museum of London collection
Foteini Aravani, Digital Curator of the Museum of London, has been collecting video games depicting, or rather simulating the city of London. Aravani explains:
"Building upon the museum’s digital collections, we recently decided to start collecting video games as an alternative way to tell the story of London. We have acquired 18 video games that represent or misrepresent the capital in their narrative or that were developed by Londoners. This is a new collection that spans from 1982-2000 and highlights the depiction of the city as a place and as a concept."
The Museum of London is following the steps of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where Senior Design Curator Paola Antonelli began collecting seminal games in 2012 (since then, things have picked up speed). But there's a crucial difference. For Antonelli, games are mere design artifacts, while for Aravani, they are also cultural, historical, and artistic documents. After all, the Museum of London is a "social history museum". As the curator muses, "the experience of playing games... reveals (a lot) about people".
Currently, the British collection features video games produced between 1982 and 2000, highlighting the the city as a place, as a concept, and as a playful construct. Aravani adds that, "All of the games chosen were ones that either depicted (or misrepresented) London, or were developed and programmed by Londoners." I was delighted that the Museum of London recognized the value of a game I selected in 2007 as one of the most important of all time, Sensible World of Soccer, as part of the Digital Canon initiative. For those unfamiliar with this irresistible football game and its legendary developers, I strongly recommend this terrific book by Gary Penn published by Read-Only-Memory.
Aravani's goal is "to find the absolute first video game to ever depict London, and also the first video game developed by a Londoner (which might of course be the same game)". If you have any suggestions, get in touch with the Museum by clicking here.
LINK: London in videogames
CORRECTION (June 1 2016): The full game archive is not currently online. The original post stated the contrary.