If you have come to the museum recently, you may have noticed a new friend—or foe—outside. She is breathing fire and mist, with five different colored heads roaring as you press the 20-sided dice (d20) before her, and her name is Tiamat! An infamous monster from the tabletop role-play game Dungeons & Dragons, the Dragon Queen is now at The Strong National Museum of Play in the Hasbro Game Park. I thought it would be nice to formally introduce her […]
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If you want to be guaranteed a lively conversation, bring up the Ouija board. This polarizing talking board has been around since the late 19th century and still manages to divide people on a number of fronts. Do they truly work? Are they dangerous? Are they a scam? However, the question provoked by its context at The Strong is: Is it a toy?
The earliest Ouija boards were produced from a wooden board marked with the letters of the alphabet, numbers, […]
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee….
There was something particularly playful about Muhammad Ali, the boxer who rivaled Pele as the most famous worldwide sports celebrity of the 20th century. But whereas Pele was known for his quiet dignity and his sheer enthusiasm for the beautiful game of soccer, Ali was not only the greatest boxer of his era, he was also a genius of repartee, someone who played with the media like he played with his (usually) helpless […]
As a man, President Theodore Roosevelt preached and lived a muscular gospel of action. T.R. commanded the bully pulpit, busted corporate trusts, hunted big game, and willingly took on—both metaphorically and literally—anyone in a match of fisticuffs, even as President. But as a boy, Teedy (as he was known to his family) was weak and sickly, prone to bouts of serious, even life-threatening illness. How he remade himself is a story that has been often told but is worth looking […]
The toy industry loves a good buzzword and lately the one I’ve been seeing is “kidult.” Kidult is usually used in reference to a specific target audience of adults who purchase toys. Generally, kidults get referenced about specific types of toys that have been increasingly popular with adults that buy toys for themselves, enough to significantly impact market trends. These often include higher end collectible toys, like Hasbro’s Black Series action figures or Barbie collector lines. They also include nostalgic […]
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 […]
Hip hop celebrates its 50th anniversary in August of 2023, and The Strong National Museum of Play is poppin’ and lockin’ into position to show our appreciation. Originating with the technique that DJ Kool Herc called “The Merry-Go-Round,” hip hop toyed with the time signatures of contemporary funk hits by extending the drummer’s solo on dance albums. In turn, hip hop crafted a borderless sonic landscape and established a new playground for innovation. Utilizing two turntables and a mixer, DJ […]
I was born into a game-playing family. While we spent plenty of evenings watching television, to truly socialize with family members, we turned to tabletop games. Whether our choice was a card game, a board game, or something in the broader games category—Boggle, Stadium Checkers, or Cootie, as examples—games made a favorite way to be entertained and engage with one another.
Whether it was genetic or environmental, playing games went beyond my parents to their parents as well. (I never thought […]
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 […]