Video Games

Remembering Ralph

I lost a friend this past weekend.Ralph Baer I first got to know Ralph Baer a little over seven years ago when he reached out to us at The Strong to see if we might be interested in preserving materials documenting his lifework.

Jordan Mechner Collection Documents Revolution in Game Graphics

A century ago, Max and Dave Fleischer, two brothers from Brooklyn, developed a device that allowed animators to capture live-action events frame by frame. They tested their system on the roof of Max’s apartment building, where Dave, wearing a black clown suit, cavorted in front of a white sheet. Max captured the movements on film and projected them onto a glass plate that he then used to trace out pictures of individual movements. The result was rotoscoping, an animation technique that Max patented in 1915 that produced amazingly life-like movements.

A Second Revolution in Game Distribution

Biologists who study the fossil record note that dramatic blooms in the number and diversity of species interrupt long periods of stasis or gradual change in animal forms. Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould termed this phenomenon “punctuated equilibrium” and wrote a book, Wonderful Life, about the sudden efflorescence of fossils during the Cambrian period about 550 million years ago.

Pirates Sail on the Video Game Screen

Homer and Cicero wrote about incidents involving sea robbers that threatened the trading routes of Ancient Greece and Rome more than 2,000 years ago. Since then, each era has encountered new brands of pirates. Popular culture today glorifies the picture of a band of outlaws who are guided by the wind and their own set of rules—consider swashbuckler Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. In recent years, many video game designers adapt tales of the sea to attract pirate aficionados to interactive game play.

The Lasting Appeal of Chase Games

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.

Hunting for Easter Eggs

I recently read Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One. The story captivated me and likely appeals to other gaming fans, especially those who—like me—happen to love 1980s pop-culture. Although the book takes place in the future, the plot encouraged me to think more about games from the past. In Ready Player One, America becomes a wasteland. To escape the onset of depression, the vast majority of citizens flee into Oasis, a virtual video game world. When the creator (James Halliday) of Oasis dies, both the real and virtual worlds become chaotic.

Preserving John Romero’s First Computer at ICHEG

ICHEG collects a vast array of materials. Sometimes they come in groups of thousands, like the archives of the Atari Coin-Op divisions we acquired, and sometimes they come in ones and twos, like John Romero’s first Apple II+ computer and design notebook that he donated. John recently joined us in installing these items in The Strong’s eGameRevolution exhibit.

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