In this paper, I consider whether virtual worlds are history in two senses of the word. The first explores the implications of the life-cycle of virtual worlds, especially of their extinction, for thinking about the history of computer-based technologies, as well as their use. The second sense of the virtual world as history brings us directly to issues of historical documentation, digital preservation and curation of virtual worlds. I consider what will remain of virtual worlds after they close down, either individually or perhaps even collectively. I argue that focusing virtual world preservation on software preservation alone is a barren exercise with respect to the documentation of events and activities that occur in these worlds; the value of software preservation lies elsewhere. In the How They Got Game Project at Stanford and the Preserving Virtual Worlds Project funded by the US Library of Congress, we have identified some possible approaches to documenting activities and events in virtual worlds. I discuss the progress we have made and why it is important for us to conduct more background research on practices for preserving complex user-behavior.
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