Ever signed an NDA? It stands for Non-Disclosure Agreement, basically a contract through which the parties agree not to disclose any information covered by it. Personally, as a screenwriter, I’ve signed a few. About what? Well, that I can’t reveal, of course. That’s the whole purpose of an NDA, right? But what if (hopefully), five or ten years from now, someone becomes interested in the creative process of the project covered by that particular NDA? Will its secrecy have expired […]
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“The evolution of the building toy is intertwined with the developmental history of the child as builder.” Toying with Architecture: The Building Toy in the Arena of Play, 1800 to the present, 1997-1998
In August 2023, I had the privilege of two weeks of research in The Strong Museum archives, courtesy of the Valentine-Cosman Research Fellowship. This was the most family-friendly research adventure of my life. During the day, I handled precious objects in the museum archives. On Thursday, Friday, and […]
“Hey, you! Greenhorn. Come on out and play like a man!” challenged the dozen cowboys staring me down from an ad in an issue of Electronic Games magazine. This rhetoric surprised me in 2023, but I imagine it would have been even more jarring for readers in 1981 when the ad for Activision’s Stampede first appeared. “Play like a man!” seemed unusual, because playfulness is so rarely connected to conventional forms of American masculinity as a key trait. Yet here […]
Video games have become increasingly popular over the last few years. In fact, a recent survey suggests that approximately 2/3rds of American adults partake in the pursuit. But even with this emerging success, gaming continues to be dogged by decades-old accusations. Many of the medium’s most ardent critics argue that games offer only vacuous experiences. Lying beyond the pixels, polygons, and interactive scenes is just empty entertainment. Or, even worse, they argue that games are only a vehicle for mindless […]
By Gleb Albert, 2018 Strong Research Fellow
In September 2018, I had the chance to go to Rochester and work at The Strong, thanks to its generous research fellowship program. My postdoctoral research project deals with the history of computer games piracy in the 1980s and early 1990s as a subculture phenomenon. I look at the so-called “crackers”—amateur computer users who removed copy protection routines from games and circulated the modified versions to gain fame and beat the competition—their […]
Just after Thanksgiving of 2018, I had the opportunity to spend two weeks at The Strong museum on a Valentine-Cosman fellowship. I wanted to know how board games mirror our understanding of ourselves, and how that understanding has changed over the last half-century or so.
I arrived on a chilly morning in Rochester to what the newscasters were calling “nuisance snow”—just enough to make driving annoying but not enough to shut anything down for these hardy Upstate New York folks—and was […]
In March 2019, we spent two days at The Strong conducting research related to Intellivision, a home video game system produced by Mattel Electronics in the late 1970s and early 1980s. We have beenworking on this project off and on for almost five years and expect it to lead to a book tentatively titled Intelligent Visions. As our research progressed, it became increasingly apparent that we needed archival materials to round out our analysis of Intellivision and its significance. We […]
In May I had the good fortune to spend two weeks as a research fellow at the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, which sits atop the too-tempting playground of The Strong National Museum of Play. My objective: to capture, using only my iPhone, every last page of Chris Kohler’s collection of 300+ fanzines. Note to future fellows: a two-minute stretch routine will help prevent back pain!
Now an editor at Kotaku and formerly of Wired, a teenage Kohler got […]
A short time ago, in an archive a few states away, I had the pleasure of exploring the far reaches of space—as represented in video games. I am working on a dissertation project examining the role of outer space in the history of the American video game industry. This has meant a lot of rewarding hours spent poring over design documents, reading internal memos, hazarding the tunnels to the fabled City of Myster y in Vanguard, and smashing millions of […]