Preserving the First Video Game Merchandising Display Unit

Preserving the First Video Game Merchandising Display Unit

Reading reports about some retail store closings, it’s hard to ignore that many of us often prefer shopping online with millions of products at our fingertips to navigating a shopping cart through the aisles of our local retailers. As a historian with an interest in consumer culture and as someone who spent countless hours of…

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Scott Adams Adventure International Collection Documents Early Commercial Computer Gaming

Scott Adams Adventure International Collection Documents Early Commercial Computer Gaming

Scott Adams, co-founder of Adventure International and pioneering commercial computer game designer, has donated to The Strong a collection of more than 130 original games created by him and his company, printed source code, product catalogs, advertising flyers, photographs, comic books, magazines, and other materials that trace Adams and his company’s trailblazing efforts in the…

Why ICHEG Collects Game Company Newsletters and Magazines

Why ICHEG Collects Game Company Newsletters and Magazines

Several years ago as a graduate student, while working on my dissertation, I visited an archive to conduct research on the records of an advertising agency.  As I searched through page after page of the collection’s finding aid, I couldn’t escape a sinking feeling that the archival gems I needed—internal agency memoranda, correspondence, and meeting…

Pinball Matters

Pinball Matters

As I stood outside The Strong’s new permanent Pinball Playfields exhibit, I couldn’t help but see and overhear our guests’ reactions to the flashing lights and distinct pops and thumps of the pinball machines. “Pinball! Yes!” I heard someone cheer. Another guest who noticed I worked at the museum stopped to tell me, “You’ve made…

Atari Packaging Design Collection Documents the Art of Selling Video Games

Atari Packaging Design Collection Documents the Art of Selling Video Games

The Strong has acquired a collection of more than 2,000 drawings, photographs, mock-ups, proofs, and other materials related to the design and production of Atari home and handheld game packaging and user manuals from 1976–1984. The Cort and Barbara Allen Atari Packaging Design Collection, 1976–1984, documents how the company’s artists, designers, and writers developed and…

The Williams Pinball Playfield Design Collection

The Williams Pinball Playfield Design Collection

Pioneering Chicago-based gaming company Williams Electronics Games, Inc. donated the Williams Pinball Playfield Design Collection, 1946–1995 to The Strong. The collection consists of more than 200 original drawings of playfields (the pinball machines’ surface where the ball rolls) layouts (with a nearly complete set of sketches from 1947 to 1971), hundreds of mechanical drawings of…

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…

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 the same spot for more than…

Video Game Focus Groups as History

Video Game Focus Groups as History

ICHEG collects a vast variety of archival materials such as artwork, design documents, and interoffice communication that provide researchers with essential details about how game companies and designers conceived, thought about, created, and sold their games.

The Lasting Appeal of Chase Games

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…