Publications - Australasian Heritage Software project


Swalwell, Melanie and Michael Davidson Game History and the Case of “Malzak”: Theorising the manufacture of ‘local product’ in 1980s New Zealand, Locating Emerging Media, Benjamin Aslinger and Germaine Halegoua, eds.


Swalwell, Melanie, Denise de Vries (2013) “Collecting Code: Challenges and strategies”, SCAN: Journal of Media Arts Culture (the In/Visibilities of Code special issue), vol. 10, no. 2,


Swalwell, Melanie (2012) Questions About the Usefulness of Microcomputers in 1980s Australia, Media International Australia, no. 143, special issue on Australian Internet Histories, Gerard Goggin and Jock Given, eds, pp. 63-77.

Swalwell, Melanie (2012) “The Early Micro User: Games writing, hardware hacking, and the will to mod”, Nordic DiGRA conference, 6-8 June 2012, Tampere, available from Digra Digital Library,


Swalwell, Melanie, Denise de Vries (2011-) Australasian Heritage Software Database

Swalwell, Melanie (2011) “More Than A Craze: Photographs of New Zealand’s early digital games scene”, Think Design Play – 5th International DiGRA Conference, 14-17 September, 2011 – Utrecht, available at


Corbett, Susan Regulation for Cultural Heritage Orphans: Time Does Matter (2010) The WIPO Journal: Analysis and Debate of Intellectual Property Issues, 2 (1), 180-196.

Corbett, Susan “Orphan Works” [2010] New Zealand Law Journal 88.

Corbett, Susan “Orphan Works: the Black Hole of Copyright?” March 2010, 31, Competition and Regulation Times, 10-11.

Delwadia V, Marshall S, Welch I, “The Effect of User Interface Delay on Thin Client Mobile Games”, Australasian User Interface Conference (Brisbane, 2010), pp. 45-52.

Swalwell, Melanie (2010) Hobbyist Computing in 1980s New Zealand: Games and the Popular Reception of Microcomputers, Return to Tomorrow: 50 years of computing in New Zealand, Janet Toland (ed.) New Zealand Computing Society, Wellington, pp. 157-169.

Swalwell, Melanie (2010) “The Case for Local Software Preservation”, Newsletter of KEEP (Keeping Emulation Environment Portable – EU FP7 Project), March, pp. 6-8,,

Swalwell, Melanie (2010) “A Living Collection: Computer games”, SL Magazine, State Library of New South Wales, Spring, pp. 30-31.

Swalwell, Melanie and Janet Bayly (2010) More than a Craze: Photographs of New Zealand’s early digital games scene Mahara Gallery, New Zealand (online exhibition).


Delwadia V, Marshall S, Welch I, “Remotely shooting asteroids on our mobile phone”, Annual Conference of the NZ ACM Special Interest Group on Human-Computer Interaction (Auckland, 2009), pp. 45-52.

Delwadia V, Marshall S, Welch I, “Using Remotely Executing Software via a Mobile Device”, Australasian User Interface Conference, (Wellington, 2009), pp. 3-8.

Swalwell, Melanie (2009) “Towards the Preservation of Local Computer Game Software: Challenges, strategies, reflections”, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, (special issue on cultural memory and digital preservation, ed. Will Straw and Jessica Santone), vol. 15, no. 3, Aug, pp. 263-279.

Abstract: Abstract: New Zealand’s digital game history includes a significant quantity of locally written software titles from the 1980s. Currently, few people are aware of this, no institutional collections exist, and institutional preservation efforts are directed elsewhere. This context prompted the assembly of a multidisciplinary team of researchers, to bring legal, technical, and media-historical expertise to bear on these titles’ preservation. This article briefly introduces the game preservation landscape, before outlining the case for the preservation of local game software. It reports on the challenges faced in a pilot study to preserve locally written game software for the Sega SC3000 computer. The initial plan to secure licence agreements that would, in turn, enable technical preservation gave way as a more complex intertwining of the legal and technical emerged. Navigating these challenges required a change of strategy: from emulation to translation. Translation from BASIC to Java is an elegant solution, in the circumstances. As well as recounting the project’s practical realisation, this article considers the fidelity of the conserved digital game to its ‘original’.

Swalwell, Contribution on game preservation for ABC TV’s “Good Game”, “Console conservation” episode 4, 2 March 2009.


Corbett S “What if Object Code had been Excluded from Protection as a Literary Work in Copyright Law? A New Zealand Perspective” Michigan State Law Review, (Spring 2008) Issue 1, 173- 197.


Corbett S., Digital Heritage: Legal Barriers to Conserving New Zealand’s Early Video Games, March 2007, vol 13, No 5, New Zealand Business Law Quarterly, 48-71.

Abstract: National libraries, museums, and archives have traditionally preserved non-digital cultural entities for future generations, supported by laws permitting them to override legal rights of owners of cultural works in the public interest. As much of today’s cultural material and information is created digitally, nations are being urged to develop appropriate policies and cultural property laws for the digital age so that digital entities can also be preserved and kept accessible for the future. Complex technical requirements, powerful economic interests, and significant legal barriers, however, need to be resolved. In the meantime, the earliest digital entities are in danger of being lost. This article explains why New Zealand’s early video games, created in the 1970s and early 1980s, are an important part of our digital cultural heritage and should be preserved for future generations. It examines the complex copyright environment that is an obstacle to preserving early New Zealand video games for cultural heritage purposes and explains why it might not be possible to obtain the necessary consents of the copyright owners of such video games. The article considers provisions in the National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa) Act 2003 and proposed amendments to the Copyright Act 1994 that are intended to facilitate digital archiving and warns that these may not be adequate. Finally, it suggests appropriate amendments to New Zealand’s cultural property law as well as interim measures to facilitate the preservation of early video games as digital heritage.

Corbett, Susan (2007) Copyright Licence for NZTronix game conservation project.

Corbett,Susan (2007) Submission on the Copyright (New Technologies and Performers’ Rights) Amendment Bill, Commerce Select Committee (NZ Parliament), 15 February.

Delwadia, Vipul (2007) ‘SGJ: Sega Genesis Java’, Victoria University of Wellington, unpublished Honours
thesis, available online, URL:

Swalwell, Melanie (2007) “The Remembering and the Forgetting of Early Digital Games: From novelty to detritus and back again” Journal of Visual Culture, special issue, Detritus & the Moving Image, Amelie Hastie (ed.), vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 255-273.

Abstract: This essay addresses the shifting, multiple and contradictory reception of early digital games technology. It reflects on the changing fortunes of early digital games, in terms of the shifts in esteem they undergo: from novelty to detritus, to partial recuperation as nostalgia item, based on the author’s research into the history of such games in New Zealand. Drawing inspiration from Tom Gunning’s analyses of the interrelation between technological novelty and the existence of a discourse that makes it possible to express such novelty, the author argues that while the present collector-led valorizing of game artifacts is significant, and the mercantile marketing of games from back-catalogues useful, there is an urgent need for discourses reflecting on digital games in relation to broader shifts in visual culture.


Swalwell, Melanie (2005) “Early Games Production in New Zealand”, DiGRA Conference: “Changing Views: Worlds in Play”, 17-20 June 2005, DiGRA Proceedings, Available online

Abstract: This illustrated paper reports on the early digital games industry in New Zealand, during the late 1970s and 80s. It presents an overview of this largely unknown history, drawing on in depth archival research, interviews with key industry participants and collectors. It discusses the local production of consoles, handhelds, and arcade games in this market, as well as anomalies of distribution of game systems widely available elsewhere, which was the context for this production. While relative isolation – geographical and policy driven – accounts for part of the booming manufacture during this period, the paper questions how helpful it is to treat early local games production as just a phenomenon of the local. While it is sometimes strategically useful, it is argued that this production of locality can mask more complex intersections between the local and non-local – or global – factors, the heterogenising aspects of globalization in this period of early digital games.


Wilson, Jason and Melanie Swalwell, “International New
Zealand Game History Timeline” (timeline of Early New Zealand computing), October,