My current research project dives into the play histories of Rochester’s former Manhattan St.-Savannah St. neighborhood where The Strong National Museum of Play is now located. Part of what was called the Southeast Loop area, the neighborhood housed residents and businesses since around the Civil War period. It was one of the oldest residential areas in downtown Rochester well into the 1960s and 1970s, until an urban renewal project largely displaced the lower income community in favor of skyrises and […]
As part of an ongoing museum project, I am digging into archives to locate the history of Rochester at Play. As someone relatively new to New York and Rochester—where The Strong calls home—I am connecting more deeply to the city as I learn how and where people played historically. Rochester locals graciously share stories about sledding hills and the old play spaces unfortunately swallowed up by construction. City historians and archivists steer me to resources that spotlight the fun tales […]
I’m always on the lookout for play in everyday social media trends and breaking news headlines. When these spaces intersect, great examples emerge and illustrate the complex meaning and cultural function of play and playthings in our daily lives.
Take as example: protesting crowds gathered following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which upended decades of legal protections for abortion established in Roe v. Wade (1973). Among the protest signs outside the Supreme […]
Back in earliest months of the U.S. COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, you may have missed the flurry of board game articles all recommending the same game: Pandemic, the 2008 cooperative game where players race around a world map to cure four simultaneous infectious epidemics before the world is lost. Great minds think alike; The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, Mashable, NPR, and more outlets raced to publish articles on the resonance of playing Pandemic in an actual pandemic. Most of […]
One of my favorite recent museum acquisitions is a package of 1990s Pink Panther lunch bags. The infamous animated character is playing Panther, an adorable, make-believe arcade game starring himself. At The Strong, we preserve obvious commercial playthings like arcade cabinets and game cartridges, but we also acquire playful artifacts and play-related materials that can assist in contextualizing play in a specific period. As the research historian, I think the artifact helps us capture how video games permeate everyday spaces […]
Recently, I had an opportunity to design a case layout for High Score, one of two new exhibition galleries in ESL Federal Credit Union Digital Worlds at The Strong museum. High Score will allow guests to explore the histories behind the video game industry and how video games have become historical artifacts with their own stories. Guests will be able to enjoy the expansion gallery firsthand in the summer of 2023. Until then, I wanted to share one of the […]
Welcome two new inductees into The Strong’s World Video Game Hall of Fame: Animal Crossing and Microsoft Flight Simulator. We recognize individual electronic games of all types—arcade, console, computer, handheld, and mobile—that enjoy popularity over a sustained period and exert influence on the video game industry or on popular culture and society. These two games join Starcraft and Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? to complete our 2021 class.
On the surface, Animal Crossing and Microsoft Flight Simulator […]
Like many folks born into musical families, I grew up around people always playing and making music. My family takes seriously the learning benefits of strumming guitars and drumming on pots and pans. But developing an ear for rhythm also helped us create our own fun almost anywhere. Playing with music might be my family’s favorite thing to do; we dive into song parodies, genre trivia, impromptu karaoke battles, operatic renditions of Billboard hits, and more. Our music […]
After many hours, worn-down X-Acto blades, and jars of starch paste, I finally completed my first 3D paper craft model: the “Flying Type” castle from the Studio Ghibli animated film Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). Designed by the Kamiuchu Corporation, the paper craft was originally available on Epson Japan’s website in the mid-2000s as a promotional item for their printers. This was not the only model capturing the imaginative world of director Hayao Miyazaki, as my Google search yielded […]