Innovations: A Brief History of Electronic Games

Discover firsthand how electronic games have changed over time. After exploring the eGameRevolution exhibit and building background knowledge, students work in small groups to create visual timelines of how computer games, console games, arcade games, and handheld games have evolved over time. Pre-visit resource materials include references to online collections and museum blogs. Video game tokens are provided for free play.

Lesson extensions for before or after your visit

The following activities are designed for your class to enjoy before or after your museum visit.  Familiarizing students with the lesson concepts can enrich their museum experience.

Time warp

Divide students into groups of three to five. Give each group a well-known historical time period, or one closely related to their current study—for example ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, the American Revolution, the Colonial Period, the 1950s—or ask students to generate ideas of their own. Give each group 30 minutes to use their imaginations and prepare a short skit that depicts how electronic games would have been used and talked about during their chosen era. Have students act out their skits and then discuss how changes in culture can influence the objects people use for play.

National Toy Hall of Fame electronic inductees

Two of the games currently inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame are electronic—Atari 2600 Game System and Nintendo Game Boy. 

Based on the criteria below, ask students to discuss what other electronic games they think should be inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

  • Icon-status: The toy is widely recognized, respected, and remembered.
  • Longevity: The toy is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over multiple generations.
  • Discovery: The toy fosters learning, creativity, or discovery through play.
  • Innovation: The toy profoundly changed play or toy design. A toy may be inducted on the basis of this criterion without necessarily having met all of the first three.

Blog it

Have students go to—the website for the International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) at The Strong—and select a blog that interests them. After reading the blog, encourage students to post a question or comment and begin a conversation with one of the museum curators.