The Strong, RIT, and Second Avenue Learning Release The Original Mobile Games

The Strong News Release
One Manhattan Square Rochester, NY 14607 • 585-263-2700 •

July 26, 2018

For Immediate Release

Shane Rhinewald, 585-410-6365,

Noelle McElrath-Hart, 585-410-6325,

The Strong, Rochester Institute of Technology,
and Second Avenue Learning
Launch The Original Mobile Games
to Mark Apple Store’s 10th Anniversary​

ROCHESTER, NEW YORK—What were the first mobile games? The Strong museum, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and Second Avenue Learning today launched The Original Mobile Games, a free iOS minigame collection. The games honor the Apple Store’s 10th anniversary and digitally recreate early handheld dexterity games and puzzles from The Strong’s unparalleled collections of play-related objects. The initial six games, available for free download in the Apple Store, represent nearly 150 years of play history.
“These early handheld puzzle and maze games provide a direct lineage to many of today’s most popular smartphone games,” says Nicolas Rickets, curator for board games and puzzles at The Strong. “One of the very first of these handheld games—Pigs and Clover from 1889—was so popular in its day that political cartoonists and media lambasted United States Senators for playing the game on the job!”

The initial launch features, among others, Pigs in Clover (players navigate four balls through a maze), Queen Mary (players place three “bouys” and then pilot the ship into the dock), and the Niagara Puzzle (players must send a stream of balls into the whirlpool at the bottom of the Falls). These games were often themed around historic events. Queen Mary celebrates the 1934 launch of the popular ocean liner. The Niagara Puzzle even played a small part in changing history; it was used to smuggle maps, files, and compasses to British prisoners of war during World War II. Staff from The Strong and faculty and students from RIT spent months researching, playing, and photographing the original games in The Strong’s collection to capture this history and the games’ exact mechanics.
“Today’s ‘born digital’ mobile games use many of the same play mechanics that have been around for more than a century in these analog dexterity games,” says Stephen Jacobs, professor at RIT and the project’s producer the project leads. “We’ve recreated these historic games to be as much like the originals as possible—and just as challenging.”
An early version of the The Original Mobile Games was created by RIT students. Second Avenue Learning’s seasoned production team joined the project in April to finalize the app and expand on the collection of digital games.
“At Second Avenue Learning, we’re in the business of creating educational games, and The Original Mobile Games provide the perfect blend of history and fun,” says CEO Victoria Van Voorhis. “We’re proud to lend our game design expertise to this project and help tell the story of how handheld games have evolved over the decades.”
After the The Original Mobile Games ships, additional “packs” of games will be available for purchase and download. Additional games from The Strong’s collections will be co-developed by RIT and the design team at Second Avenue Learning, who will assist with creating and play testing these additional games, as well as in maintaining the app.

The Original Mobile Games and its additional game packs are available in the Apple Store. For more, please visit
About The Strong
The Strong is the only collections-based museum in the world devoted solely to the history and exploration of play. It is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play and houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play. 
About Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester Institute of Technology is home to leading creators, entrepreneurs, innovators and researchers. Founded in 1829, RIT enrolls about 19,000 students in more than 200 career-oriented and professional programs, making it among the largest private universities in the U.S. The university is internationally recognized and ranked for academic leadership in business, computing, engineering, imaging science, liberal arts, sustainability, and fine and applied arts. RIT also offers unparalleled support services for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation. Global partnerships include campuses in China, Croatia, Dubai and Kosovo. For news, photos and videos, go to
RIT’s game design and development program was ranked fifth at the undergraduate level and seventh at the graduate level according to the 2018 international rankings from The Princeton Review. Two years ago, RIT launched MAGIC Spell Studios, a fully functioning studio that will move to a new 43,000-square-foot building this fall, was designated a New York State Digital Gaming Hub by Empire State Development. RIT was the first university to launch a student-created game on Xbox One in 2016.
About Second Avenue Learning
Led by CEO Victoria Van Voorhis, Second Avenue Learning is an award-winning educational game studio that has been producing educational games and interactives for more than 10 years. Second Avenue’s products have more than 30 million play-throughs of science games and simulations in 17 countries.