Citizens! Meet Cherie Heiberg, Archivist, who is in charge of creating the Galactapedia and organizing CIG’s internal wiki called Confluence.
This a truly fascinating hire and a intriguing position that Cherie Heiberg holds with Star Citizen. Having someone who truly knows what they’re doing in organizing and maintaining the Galactapedia, which will be a massive and expansive repository of information about the Star Citizen universe, is vital and I’m thrilled that CIG is making the appropriate moves needed right now.
Hey guys, I’m here with our Archivist, Cherie Heiberg. Cherie, how are you today?
I’m good, i’m good
Thanks for coming on.
I’m happy to be here.
So you started very recently. How did you hear about the game, and how did you get your foot in the door?
Well, I heard about the game initially just from being on the internet. I was aware of the Kickstarter, I was aware of CR’s career, as someone who’s been a big fan of video games all my life, how could I not be aware, you know? But I first came on to the game initially because Will Weissbaum, he’s one of the writers, and he’s one of my friends. He’s known me since I moved to California a year ago, and he’s heard me talk at length about how passionate I am about video games and how I think they need to have more respect in the academic and professional world, and how they need to be preserved, and he thought hey, here’s someone who has a background in digital preservation, we really need someone to come in and help get Confluence in order. And that’s how it began.
Yeah, Confluence is…unwieldy.
It is. It’s a beast.
How’s that process been?
Well, you know, I’ve had multiple people come up to me and say, ow, you’re getting Confluence in order? eww I feel sorry for you. But I really enjoy it, personally, I love having the chance to go over an information system and to hit it with a stick and talk to everybody about what the best way to hit it with that stick is. To get it into some kind of semblance of order.
So what was your history? You said you had something in digital preservation?
Digital Preservation, yes, I’m a library science Masters person, from the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill, I got my degree in late 2013, where I specialized in archives and records management, and digital preservation. And I did my masters paper on preserving video games.
Interesting. What got you started on that?
Well I noticed during the course of my education and my experience with video games, that there are very few people out there who are making an effort to preserve video games on a professional level. There have been some institutions that have made good headway, like Stanford has a program on physically preserving the games. The University of Texas at Austin has an archive, and I know there’s been some effort at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, but far and wide there hasn’t been much professionally done about digital preservation, and as more games become digital, and as more games are lost and the only thing we have is the code, it’s the effort to preserve this becomes more and more important.
What my Masters paper was really about was building a strategy for preserving Digital games based on the practices of communities of players.
It seems like a lot of the preservation is almost in pseudo-illegal means. If the means to play the game no longer exist, and there’s a means to play it online, it’s not technically legal or illegal, like, has that come into question for you at all?
Yes, it’s sort of a grey area, and archivists and librarians are all very interested in toeing the line of copyright. It’s the only way we can preserve things is to make sure we respect the copyright that’s held by all the people that made the game. But, the early history of Video Games is very fuzzy. There were a lot of studios that sprang up and then disappeared and no-one knows who holds the copyright to a particular game, because no-one knows where they went, or even who they were in a lot of cases.
Yeah, where’s LGN at (?)
Who knows! And so, while archivists and librarians and other professional organizations have been trying to figure out where the copyright holders are, communities of gamers, just amateur preservationists, have come in and said, well, I can get this code, and I can preserve it just as it is, and I can build an emulator so you can play the game, without affecting the code, and though no-one was trained in archival principles, those are archival principles. They’re following them.
Yeah, that’s what I find so frustrating, is I look back at old Turbografix games, and companies that don’t’ even exist anymore, and yeah, you can find them online there’s an emulator for them, but are you breaking the law a bit? It’s legal to own it, and to emulate it yourself, but if you put it out there, doesn’t that break copyright?
It does, depending on the game. The games that I was talking about specifically, the ones where no-one knows where the copyright holders went, if you can demonstrate to the law that you made a reasonable effort to contact the copyright holder, then you can, technically, preserve it and put it out there, like what the Internet Archive did recently. Which I love by the way. The Internet Archive is awesome.
Interesting. A shout-out for Internet Archive
Internet Archive woo!
They released a bunch of ROMS, and what ROMS are is, games that were made from cartridge-based games, like with the chips, and now they have a bunch of these games out there, that no-one knows who the copyright holders are, and they’re just there, available to play. Or they sought permission from the copyright holders to distribute.
Yeah, ‘cause it’s specifically interesting when you go into digital stuff like you were talking about earlier, where now if a copy of Mario Brothers, the physical copy I have, I can digitize that if I’d like, but for, for example, a game like Braid, there never was a physical thing. It was purely digital. So what if Xbox Live, you bought it on Xbox, if Xbox Live goes down. Where does that thing live?
Well, it lives in the possession of everybody who has the code. And if a worst-case scenario the original code of the game was lost, and I saw worst-case scenario as if it doesn’t happen often, but it actually does happen quite often, like when Square Enix lost the assets to Kingdom Hearts I, that was, uugh, that was something.
It broke my heart.
yeah, it’s a wonderful game, and they were trying to make an HD release, and they lost the original assets, and they basically had to start from scratch.
But basically, if Braid disappeared, then the people who held digital copies of the game, somehow, maybe they made backups, or maybe they ahve it downloaded onto the Hard Drive of their Xbox, these are the people we would have to turn to, to try to rescue it.
Yeah, that’s interesting, you would hope Jonathan Blow would have multiple, multiple backups.
Yeah. I think he probably does.
He seems like the kind of guy who would. So lets move into more Star Citizen. Like, what about the game was it that interested you? Like, I know you like video games, but was it the promise of Chris Roberts, or was it the minutiae of it or?
I LOVE space. I love space sims, I love Mass Effect, that’s one of my favourite games. I just love the idea of having a living Universe where I can just go and explore and find new worlds, and actually contribute to the growth of the Universe. That was the most exciting thing for me.
It’s crazy when you think about it. Cause when you live here, I mean, I kinda live here, but when you’re here every day, you kind of lose track of the scope, and then you get those little moments when you get to kind of see it coming together, and it’s still…even after a year here, it’s staggering. It’s like, wow, we are making something very special.
So before I let you go, we’ve got to do some rapid-fires, about your favourites.
So, favourite Video Game
Good call. Movie
That’s a tough one.
No it’s not.
Yeah it’s definitely tough. I can’t think of a movie off the top of my head that I like best. Umm. ffffffffff
Feivel goes west?
*laughter* Yes. Feivel goes west. No, what is my favourite movie? OH Pacific Rim.
I’ve never seen Pacific Rim.
I’ve heard. Ben tells me all the time.
It’s great. You should absolutely see it.
Favourite food is Ramen.
Alright, thank you for joining me. I’m James Pugh, and this is
And you just met a Dev.
I’ll stick with that one for a while.
*background person – I’ll be honest, you could do better, but if you’re going to own it, then just own it.
Keep your laughter in there at the end though.
*Background Person – wait, like top Ramen, or like real Ramen?
Like real ramen!
Like real ramen! Not the stuff you can get at stores. At restaurants, yeah.