Summer Travels Part 1: Strong National Museum of Play, Rochester, New York

I’ve been active doing video game related things this summer and thought it was finally time to sit down and share. I’ll be breaking this up into multiple post, so stay tuned for most posts in the near future.

IMG_3905
A Outside look at the Strong

This July I had the opportunity to conduct archival research at The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, as  part of the Strong Research Fellowship. For those unaware of the this impressive museum,  The Strong is the largest museum dedicated to the act of play in the world and boasts multiple exhibits dedicated to video games and gaming. I was thoroughly impressed by the range of exhibits the museum offered, both those pertaining to video games and those more centered more broadly around the history of play. In particular, the Strong had an excellent exhibit on the history of Women in Games that was expansive and nuanced. With the Strong having broken ground in 2018 on a major expansion aimed to open in 2021 that will include a World Video Game Hall of Fame gallery and other immersive video game related exhibits, the future for the museum as a global archive and educator of play is bright.

 

As a part of the fellowship, I had access to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games’s impressive collection of documents, artifacts, and digital records pertaining to play. I came in interested in studying software and hardware cloning in the early history of video games (1972-1995), a subject that I have developed a fascination for this past year. Through the ICHEG’s archives, I was able to to play and see some devices that have become increasingly rare to find in working order, as well as diving into documents of gaming past that inform our current community. I’ll have more to share via the Strong’s Play Stuff Blog about the specific of my research findings in the near future, but I can’t express how grateful I am to have received the opportunity to do this form of archival research by the staff at the Strong.

My next post will share some pictures and experiences from the Higher Education Video Game Alliance’s (HEVGA) first Summer School that took place in Skövde, Sweden.

Follow me on Twitter at @SocialVideoGame

twit

 

Strong Museum (NY) Is Creating Video Game Hall of Fame

“Video games don’t belong in museums, that’s where we put old chairs and paintings of dead people” – no one ever.

The Strong Museum in New York, more commonly known as the national museum of play, is taking nominations for a video game hall of fame. Gamers across the world can go online and vote for which games they believe should be immortalized in the museum’s hall of fame. Before you go rushing to vote Battle Toads & Double Dragon as the most historically important video game of all time, you may want to know some background as to why they’re creating this hall of fame.

Why and how are they doing this? Well, as President and Chief Executive of the museum puts it:

“Electronic games have changed how people play, learn and connect with each other, including across boundaries of culture and geography”

That’s what we’ve been saying for year! Joking aside, it’s good to see video games get more of an academic and historical presence. The creation of a video game hall of fame is one step towards video games being properly preserved for future generations, which as we discussed in previous articles is a real issue in the community.

Games will be decided by a advisory committee and will inducted based on a set criteria. The criteria is as follows:

The World Video Game Hall of Fame recognizes electronic games that meet the following criteria: icon-status, the game is widely recognized and remembered; longevity, the game is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over time;geographical reach, the game meets the above criteria across international boundaries; and influence, the game has exerted significant influence on the design and development of other games, on other forms of entertainment, or on popular culture and society in general. (A game may be inducted on the basis of the last criterion without necessarily having met all of the first three.)

This means that hall of fame won’t just include the highest selling games of all times, but will take into consideration a game’s impact on the industry and society as a whole. Let’s try  and get some of those socially important games in there, like Joe & Mack (It’s a historical documentation about how cavemen loved women and hated dinosaurs). This is a big step for the medium, which is still relatively underrepresented in museums as a whole. In the next few years with Frisco’s first museum dedicated solely to video games and this creation of a hall of fame, we may see video games getting more historical and sociological coverage and representation than ever before.

What games, characters, or franchises would you put in the Video Game Hall of Fame?

You can read the entire press release here!

Frisco Looks To Be Nation’s First Video Game Museum

http://www.polygon.com/2014/9/21/6742881/videogame-history-museum-location-national-frisco

HEY. RAILROAD MUSEUM, MOVE OVER. Video games need a museum!

Frisco (TX) is looking to invest in the nation’s first museum dedicated solely to video games. The Video Game History Museum, which up to this point has only been a traveling exhibit, is seeking a place to call home. This week The Board of The Frisco Community Development Corporation approved the museum, which means we may soon see  the VGHM up and running. This is great news for anyone interested in video games, history, or museums (Everyone know those people).

Why should we care? Toys have museums. Even cartoons. The fact that video games, which now make up a large part of media consumed, do not yet have a museum is pretty astounding. Promoting and maintaining video game history legitimizes and documents video games in a way that has yet to be previously done. Without proper documentation and preservation, there’s plenty of history that can be lost to time. As we have discussed in previous articles, video games are a medium that can literally see aspects disappear because of hardware limitations. Being a digital medium means that once the data for specific games are lost, they may be lost forever. Piracy, currently, has been one of the few ways games have remained in existence, which itself is horribly ironic.

We’ve seen digital video game museum’s in the past, including IGN’s Mario museum and Sonic Team’s interactive museum world in “Sonic Jam”, but a physical place to go and observe video game’s history is the next step in the development of Video game history and preservation.

In Sonic Jam players can view a digital history of the franchise without curators and volunteers lurking around.

For anyone who is interested, you should head over to the VGHM’s website.