Daniel Rehn, an artist and designer in Southern California, is collaborating with Jeremy Douglass, a postdoctoral fellow at UCSD, on a research project they call the Video Gameplay Database. Noting influences from people like Ben Fry and John Maeda (among others), the “database is organized around two core objects: video recordings of game play and representations of those sessions.” Rehn expects games scholars to contribute observations, video and the like to help create data visualizations that will also encompass a range of information from storyboards to recorded gameplay sessions. He also seems to intend to make this work available for download and alteration, which opens up other possibilities for archived gameplay sessions and studies to be built on and uploaded by others.
Rehn’s blog has some entries showing the sorts of images he hopes to add to the database, but little hard information about what the VGDb will actually look like or how those interested in contributing will do so. Nor does he mention the possibly horrifying copyright implications. Still, it’s a tantalizing idea for the possibility of building out an index of remixable data on assorted games across a variety of platforms and game types. Given the widespread global usage of games and the increasing amounts of time and money spent on playing them by people of varied demographic groups, it’s likely we’ll see more projects like this looking to take a hard look at how people actually use the pastime as we go forward.