Jon-Paul Dyson

Finding Video Game History in the Archives

Traditional library and archival materials help flesh out the history of video games. In addition to the personal papers of famous game designers like Ralph Baer, Ken and Roberta Williams, Dan Bunten, and Bill Budge, The Strong collections include many items that shed light on the formative decades for the development of electronic games.

A Short History of Mobile Games

I’m writing this blog while carrying a phone with the potential to play tens of thousands of games like Angry Birds, Temple Run, and Words with Friends. The incredible diversity of game options reflects a revolution in mobile gaming. Today’s smart phones offer a cornucopia of choices inconceivable to users who back in 1997 were satisfied playing Snake on their Nokia phone. But while the number of different mobile games available is new, the desire for games to play on the go is quite old.

From Board Games to Video Games

The roots of video gaming go deep into the longer history of games, puzzles, and play. Backyard games of cops and robbers predated first-person shooters. Puzzles existed long before designers incorporated them in video games. Pen and paper RPGs proved so exciting and immersive that programmers began creating electronic variations.

From Battlezone to World of Tanks

In 1970, the movie Patton became a top-grossing film of the year, earned eight Academy Awards, and starred George C. Scott as the brilliant, eccentric World War II tank commander General George S. Patton. At a time when the country was mired in jungle warfare in Vietnam, in which tanks played relatively little role, audiences warmed to the epic story of America’s fast-moving tactical victories in the “good war” a quarter-century earlier. Tanks fired the imagination of not only movie-goers, but game players as well.

But Mom, I Wanted PONG!

Have you ever yearned for a particular gift only to receive an inferior substitute? That I imagine is what happened under a number of Christmas trees in the mid-1970s, when Marx Toys marketed its T.V. Tennis, an electromechanical version of home video game systems. ICHEG recently acquired a working copy of T.V.

Her Interactive Collections at ICHEG

Her Interactive, creator of the popular Nancy Drew games, has donated a large collection of games, design drafts, memoranda, press materials, focus group studies, player correspondence, and other materials that document the company’s history, the development of their Nancy Drew games, and the attitudes of girls towards gaming over the past 20 years.

Timeline of Video Game History

ICHEG’s website now features a new timeline charting the development of video games from the experiments of a few early computer pioneers to the products of a multibillion dollar industry. Some years on the timeline present an important or groundbreaking game or system; other entries symbolize a trend, such as the development of social and mobile gaming.

A Fabulous Collection of Atari Concept Art

ICHEG has acquired a collection of more than 250 drawings that document how designers at Atari created some of the most important games of the arcade era. Sketches show the development of games such as Gran Trak 10, the first cabinet to use a steering wheel, shifter, and gas and brake pedals; Touch Me, which inspired Ralph Baer’s Simon; the pioneering 3D dogfight simulator Red Baron; and the legendary dungeon crawler Gauntlet.