Frequently my two-year-old daughter Sidney greets me with two words: "chase, Daddy." It's a request that usually leads to lots of laughter and me circling around tables and chairs as I chase her throughout our house. In psychologist Peter Gray’s book Free to Learn, he notes that young mammals of nearly all species play chase games.
Over the past two years, the International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) has been working to preserve pinball’s past by expanding its collection to more than 50 historic pinball machines—adding early “pin games” (flipperless predecessors to pinball machines) and electromechanical and “solid state” (electronic) pinball machines to the museum’s unparalleled collection of playthings.
ICHEG has acquired a massive collection of materials chronicling the history of Atari’s pioneering video arcade and pinball machine divisions from 1972 to 1999. The collection represents the largest and most comprehensive assemblage of archival records and other documentary items related to Atari’s coin-operated games anywhere in the world.
Childhood trips to a local Kmart always meant two things: my mother searching for “blue light specials” and the chance to slip away to see and play new video games in an environment awash in electronic sights and sounds. What I didn’t realize then was that all those video game packages, aisles of shelves, elaborate displays, and flashy kiosks had been carefully designed and displayed to encourage me to purchase new games.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Atari programmers and designers crafted hundreds of new video game play experiences for millions of people. This summer The Strong will open Atari by Design, a temporary exhibit (June 22 – September 8, 2013) that features one-of-a kind concept art and design documents and explores the designs behind some of Atari’s most significant arcade video games and video game consoles.