The Pre-Game Show: It Starts with a Prototype

The Pre-Game Show: It Starts with a Prototype

Other than Santa’s workshop at the North Pole, where do games come from? Often they start out as prototypes, initial versions that allow game inventors to test their concepts and designs. Like the first draft of a novel or the rough cut of a movie, these prototype games help illustrate the revisions and refinements that…

All in a Day’s Work: Preparing for Game Time! at The Strong

All in a Day’s Work: Preparing for Game Time! at The Strong

If you’re a member or fan of the National Museum of Play at The Strong, you probably know that the museum will open another major exhibit on the second floor in April 2013. Game Time! will illuminate the exciting history of board games, card games, puzzles, electromechanical coin-operated games, pinball machines, and other forms of…

Dominoes: A 2012 National Toy Hall of Fame Inductee

Dominoes: A 2012 National Toy Hall of Fame Inductee

Many of us grew up playing domino games. And once the game was over, we carefully lined the dominoes up on end, just to watch them topple in a chain reaction. With a history stretching back more than 700 years, dominoes today look the same as they did two centuries ago. Dominoes are devices, like…

Rochester’s NFL Football Team and a Hometown Sports Hero

Rochester’s NFL Football Team and a Hometown Sports Hero

Few people today know that Rochester, New York, was once home to a football team that became part of the American Professional Football Association (APFA), eventually known as the National Football League. The story starts in the early years of the 20th century when the Rochester Jeffersons took their name from their practice field’s location…

Fantastic Fiscal Fun

Fantastic Fiscal Fun

Buzzwords and hot topics permeate the media as the 2012 election approaches. Watch almost any news report and you’ll likely hear phrases such as “fiscal responsibility” and “balance the budget.” As gloomy as the current political circumstances or economic conditions may seem though, history tells us that it’s nothing new. People have long persisted through…

Monopoly and More: How The Strong Builds Collections

Monopoly and More: How The Strong Builds Collections

Do you marvel at the toys and dolls on display at The Strong? Ever wonder how they came to the National Museum of Play? As curator of games—board games, card games, and many more—I’m responsible for acquiring historic playthings and popular new examples. But how exactly do we do it? One way is through donation….

Hot Wheels: A 2011 National Toy Hall of Fame Inductee

Hot Wheels: A 2011 National Toy Hall of Fame Inductee

I was eight years old in 1968 and, like many of my friends, I played with toy cars. That year, Mattel introduced toy autos called Hot Wheels. Unlike the toy cars before them, Hot Wheels rolled really fast either downhill or with a touch of a finger. Accessories such as track sets and collector cases…

Play through the Centuries

Play through the Centuries

Recently, The Strong acquired a rare and important early printed book illustration. The image came to our attention when Gordon Burghardt used it to illustrate his article, “The Comparative Reach of Play and Brain: Perspective, Evidence, and Implications,” in the Winter 2010 issue of The Strong’s American Journal of Play. As professor of both psychology…

Single Ladies: The History of Old Maid

Single Ladies: The History of Old Maid

Did you play card games as a child? If so, you probably played a version of Old Maid. The term “old maid” is English and means an unmarried childless woman or spinster. Used as early as 1761 for the title of a play by Irishman Arthur Murphy, it also means an unpopped kernel in a…

With a Song in my Heart: A Brief History of American Sheet Music; or, How to Search The Strong’s Database

With a Song in my Heart: A Brief History of American Sheet Music; or, How to Search The Strong’s Database

As I write this, Katy Perry’s “E.T.” featuring Kanye West ranks as the number one pop song. Country’s top pick is “Heart Like Mine” by Miranda Lambert, while R&B’s current number one is “Sure Thing” by Miguel. Although the star performers get all the attention, hit songs could never happen without the session musicians and…