Video games have transformed the way we play, and The Strong National Museum of Play has long been at the forefront of collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of gaming. Now, as part of a 90,000 sq. ft. museum expansion, guests have the opportunity to explore 24,000 sq. ft of new exhibits dedicated to video games. Among these new exhibits, ESL Digital Worlds: High Score provides guests with an unparalleled look at the historical and cultural significance of video games. […]
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Where we play often determines how we play. This fact is often forgotten when we look at the history of play, whether that’s in a monograph or a museum collection. Place shapes play.
Let’s consider this historically. For most of human history, living quarters were nasty, brutish, and cramped. There was little room for interior play in a dark, dirty hovel, unless that play was fairly confined. In a northern climate like Iceland in the Middle Ages, that might mean playing […]
I previously blogged about some Japanese Super Nintendo video games I had cataloged during my first few months as Curator of Electronic Games. Reflecting on my own memories of playing Super Nintendo and other systems of that generation and seeing the Japanese games I was cataloging, I recognized that many genres popular overseas often did not make it stateside.
The Sega Saturn was immensely popular in Japan, its library totaling more than one thousand games. By contrast, the American Saturn library […]
By Adam Nedeff, researcher for the National Archives of Game Show History
The Strong’s latest expansion—opening June 30, 2023—includes the world’s largest, playable Donkey Kong arcade game. Using a motherboard from an original Donkey Kong cabinet, this monolithic version stands nearly 20 feet tall. In honor of this new addition to The Strong, the National Archives of Game Show History is flashing back 40 years to a short-lived but much-loved game show that starred Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, the Mario Brothers, and […]
One of the joys of working in a museum collection is seeing the variety of objects that come into the museum. In 2022, my weekly round of photography brought me in contact with a mix of Pokémon plush figures. But photographing some classic Pokémon wasn’t my only interaction with the franchise. I spent February 2022 exploring the open world of Pokémon Legends: Arceus. In December, I completed my Pokédex in Pokémon Scarlet. I continued to procrastinate on several planned Pokémon […]
Game design is learned by doing. Get a game with a level editor or a scenario maker or whatever and create something. Get some friends to try it. Don’t TELL them how to play. Instead, watch them and see what happens.—Arnold Hendrick
Granting a rare interview in 2009 and reflecting on his career, Arnold Hendrick (1961–2020) described his passion for wargaming and then for game design. His first published game appeared as the game supplement in the wargaming magazine Strategy & […]
After the dropping of two bombs in 1945 on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, humanity’s ability to harvest the potential of nuclear energy became a recurring theme in play. In the beginning, nuclear power seemed like an awesome force that offered great promise, even as it was recognized as perilous and destructive. As time went on, however, its catastrophic capacity began to outweigh its potential for good in the public mind, as fears of global destruction invaded the imaginations of toy and […]
As video game graphics became more advanced, the tools required to create them also became more advanced. Artists today can choose from any number of free and paid software tools, allowing for the creation of both 2D and 3D graphics that could only be dreamed about just decades prior. In the past, though, developers needed to develop those specialized tools themselves.
Following the release of 1972’s Pong, Atari’s arcade games grew increasingly complex. Lunar Lander in 1979 was the company’s first […]
Play begins in anticipation. This is true not only for play generally but also specifically for video games. We discover a game from an advertisement or through word of mouth or perhaps from reading or watching something that someone else—often a professional journalist—has written or produced about the game. We begin to daydream about the game and think about what we’ll do in it, what surprises we’ll discover, and what challenges we will have to overcome. Our fingers itch to […]