I Want YOU (to Test Your Grip): Uncle Sam as Arcade Icon

I Want YOU (to Test Your Grip): Uncle Sam as Arcade Icon

Stern Pinball’s recent announcement of a new line of KISS pinball machines “honoring one of the most influential and iconic rock bands of all time,” reminded me how frequently today’s coin-operated amusement games center on licensed brands, revered characters, and cultural icons.  Other recent examples include Stern’s The Avengers (2012) and Mustang (2014) and Raw Thrills’s Batman (2013). Yet arcade and pinball manufacturers have always produced games that capitalized on popular cultural trends and recognizable characters, even including Uncle Sam.

Claymation: From the Movie Screen to the Video Game Screen

Claymation: From the Movie Screen to the Video Game Screen

Video game design often involves sophisticated software and complex coding that results in a visual and auditory experience for the user. Several designers today incorporate tactical play into video game design. Plasticine, a non-drying, non-toxic, malleable clay, developed by art teacher William Harbutt in 1897, has become an experimental tool of the trade.

Lessons from the Past for the Future of Virtual Reality

Lessons from the Past for the Future of Virtual Reality

Last month, while attending the Game Developers Conference, I couldn’t help but notice the giant booths advertising Oculus Rift, Sony Morpheus, Steam VR, and other new virtual reality headsets that are the hottest trend in gaming. While I didn’t stand in any of the long lines to try these devices, like many people I’m curious…

Pixel Art: Nostalgia or Visual Style?

Pixel Art: Nostalgia or Visual Style?

The limits of computing hardware of the 1980s required game designers to use pixel art, a 2D graphical style that is enjoying a revival today. Games like Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, and The Legend of Zelda consisted of 2D images with low resolutions and limited color palettes that many designers and gamers considered…

Beam Him Up, Scotty: Remembering Leonard Nimoy

Beam Him Up, Scotty: Remembering Leonard Nimoy

“Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most human.”                 ~ Admiral James T. Kirk

Morality at Play in Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead

Morality at Play in Telltale Games' The Walking Dead

As a kid, I loved playing hide-and-seek. My favorite variation was a team-based game in which a dozen of us hid and chased each other through the streets and backyards of my densely packed neighborhood. Because we all knew the best places to hide, no one could stay in same spot for more than a…

The World Video Game Hall of Fame

The World Video Game Hall of Fame

We are excited to announce that The Strong has launched the World Video Game Hall of Fame to recognize individual electronic games of all types (arcade, console, computer, handheld, and mobile) that have been popular over a sustained period and influenced the video game industry or popular culture in general.

From Pixel to Paper: The Centipede Board Game

From Pixel to Paper: The Centipede Board Game

In 1981, Atari released Centipede—a shoot ‘em up arcade game comprised of pixilated creepy-crawlies—created by Ed Logg and Dona Bailey, one of the first female game designers. To play the game, a player used a trackball controller and a single firing button to shoot at a large centipede as it wound its way down the…

Never Alone: Protecting Cultural Heritage through Interactive Play

Never Alone: Protecting Cultural Heritage through Interactive Play

I recently listened to independent researcher Paul J. Hale’s Disney Story Origins podcast. In each episode, Hale seeks to understand the historical facts or origins of folklores, myths, and tales adapted by Disney for the big screen. Hale’s podcast presents amusing factoids and comparisons. In Disney’s Mulan, for example, the heroine has a token sidekick,…

Remembering Ralph

Remembering Ralph

I lost a friend this past weekend. 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. We, of course, were interested—after all, he was a legend, the man who…