The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games® (ICHEG) collects, studies, and interprets video games, other electronic games, and related materials and the ways in which electronic games are changing how people play, learn, and connect with each other, including across boundaries of culture and geography.
As a result of ICHEG’s efforts, The Strong’s collection of video games, other electronic games, and electronic game-related historical materials is the largest and most comprehensive public assemblage in the United States and one of the largest in the world. At 60,000 items and growing, the collection includes games and the platforms on which they are played, game packaging and advertising, game-related publications, game-inspired consumer products and other items that illustrate the impact of electronic games on people’s lives, and personal and business papers of key individuals and companies in the electronic game industry.
Beyond collecting and preserving such materials, ICHEG develops exhibits, contributes to the Play Stuff Blog, produces the live stream series “Game Saves at The Strong” on Twitch and an e-newsletter, conducts and encourages research and writing about the historical and cultural significance of video games and other electronic games, maintains a timeline of key moments in video game history, highlights key holdings and activities on its Facebook page, and presents at video game and play-related conferences. Further, ICHEG staff support a multitude of activities related to The Strong’s World Video Game Hall of Fame. Through all of these activities and more, ICHEG seeks to ensure that present and future generations can explore the history of electronic games, understand how they began and evolved, appreciate who played what roles in that evolution, and grasp the impact that electronic games have on society. (For more, see ICHEG Director Jon-Paul C. Dyson's interview, "Collecting, Preserving, and Interpreting the History of Electronic Games," in The Strong's American Journal of Play.)
Key Software, Hardware, and Company Collections
The Strong’s collections encompass the most important arcade video games of all time; examples of every major video game platform manufactured in the United States since 1972 and a broad selection of consoles from other countries; more than 22,000 video games for consoles and more than 12,000 for personal computers; examples of all significant handheld-game systems; more than 4,500 children’s electronic educational games and software titles; an extensive collection of children’s toys, such as Simon, Tamagotchi, and Webkinz, that combine digital and traditional play; and much more.
- Early Arcade Video Games, 1971–1978
- Early Pin Games and Electromechanical Pinball Machines, 1931–1976
- Golden Age Arcade Video Games, 1978–1985
- Solid State Pinball Machines, 1976–Present
- Vector-Based Graphic Games, 1977–1985
- Simulator Games, 1985–Present
- Specialty Games, 1991–Present
- Consoles, 1972–Present
- Handhelds, 1976–Present
- Personal Computers, 1979–Present
- Children’s Electronic Toys, 1976–Present
- Console Games, 1972–Present
- Computer Games, 1978–Present
- Educational Games, 1978–Present
- American Pinball Companies (Bally, Midway, Williams) Collection, 1933–2000
- Scott Adams Adventure International Collection, 1970–2015
- Atari Coin-Op Divisions Collection, 1972–1999
- Brøderbund Software, Inc. Collection, 1979–2002
- Her Interactive Collection, 1994–2012
- Living Books Collection, 1993–2000
- Microsoft Collection, 1993–2011
- Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation Collection, 1968–2011
- Nintendo of America Collection, 1983–2010
- Nutting Associates Collection, 1967–1973
- Penguin Software Collection, 1970–2013
- Paul Sams Collection of Blizzard Games and Merchandise, 1992–2015
- Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) Collection, 1979–2001
- Tengen, Inc. Collection, 1987–1994
- Toys for Bob Skylanders Collection, 2009–2017
- Wargaming Collection, 2000–2018
- Westwood Studios Collection, 1985–2003
Key Holdings of Publications and Personal Papers
In keeping with ICHEG’s interest in the broad cultural history of electronic games, The Strong’s electronic game and related collections encompass not only games and game platforms, but also a wide variety of other materials such as packaging, advertising, publications, electronic game inspired consumer products, literary and popular inspirations of video game imagery, personal and business papers, and other associated artifacts and documents that represent or illustrate the design and development of video games and other electronic games and their impact on people’s lives.
- Cort and Barbara Allen Atari Packaging Design Collection, 1976–1984
- Atari Arcade Design Collection, 1973–1991
- Ralph H. Baer Papers, 1968–2010
- Bill Budge Collection, 1971–1985
- Dan Bunten (Dani Bunten Berry) Papers, 1949–1998
- Books and Periodicals
- Computer Gaming World Collection, 1982–2000s
- Don Daglow Papers, 1977–2010
- Brian Fargo Papers, 1983–2012
- Kevin Gifford Video Game Magazine Collection, 1970s–Present
- Gerald A. “Jerry” Lawson Collection, 1967–1994
- Jordan Mechner Collection, 1913–2014
- Carol Shaw Collection, 1978–2002
- Prima Games Collection, 1990–Present
- Trade Catalogs
- Guy Welch Collection, 1988–2013
- Ken and Roberta Williams Collection, 1979–1996
- Williams Pinball Playfield Design Collection, 1946–1995
- Will Wright Papers, 1989–2010
Access to the Collections
Many artifacts from The Strong’s electronic and video game collections are on public view, including classic arcade games, the latest video game consoles, game prototypes, handwritten papers and sketches from electronic game inventors, and more in eGameRevolution®, an expansive, artifact-rich museum exhibit, produced by ICHEG, that explores the history and impact of electronic games. Additionally, tens-of-thousands of items are accessible online through The Strong’s online database.
On-site access to non-public collections spaces is available to scholars, students, collectors, and other researchers by appointment. Appointments may be made via an online form, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide a topic of research, indicate the materials desired, and any special needs.
To promote and advance play scholarship, The Strong invites academic professionals, independent scholars, museum scholars, and advanced graduate students at the Masters or PhD level to apply for research fellowships. Fellowships provide financial support for scholarly play research conducted on site at The Strong in Rochester, New York, for periods of study ranging from one week to three months.
Donate to the Collections
The Strong is actively seeking and acquiring additional examples of games, game platforms, handheld-game systems, children’s electronic educational games and software titles, toys that combine digital and traditional play, and supporting materials of all types, including other game-inspired consumer products, packaging, advertising, historical records, and business and personal papers related to the design and production of electronic games and their use. Queries from individuals and organizations that have important electronic games and related materials that merit a permanent home where they can help inform future generations are welcome.
To inquire about donating games, platforms, or other materials, contact:
Jon-Paul C. Dyson, Director, International Center for the History of Electronic Games