National Center for the History of Electronic Games

The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY houses the Center for the History of Electronic Games. According to their website the museum "collects, studies, and interprets electronic games and related material and the ways in which electronic games are changing how people play, learn, and connect with each other."

They have a collection of 15,000 items and, according to Kotaku, every console ever made on display.

Without question, this is game geek heaven and a productive development for game studies. I have heard similar rumblings from other academic game research centers about developing collections of materials for the study of games, but funding, especially right now, seems to be difficult to acquire for this incredibly necessary effort in the development of game studies. Developing these kinds of collections would be an immense help to those of us interested in historical approaches to game studies specifically in light of the hardware-centric scholarship being done in MIT's platform studies.

We have had conversations on Gameology in the past about the difficulty of archiving games, particularly PC games, given changing hardware and operating systems. However, what the Center for the History of Electronic Games made me think about was, how useful is it to just put a bunch of consoles on display? It seems to me that games necessitate some revision of exhibition design. Certainly digital art has called attention to this issue, but there seems to be issues specific to exhibiting and educating the public about games when the experiences are so varied and time consuming. These issues, for instance the idea of "the experience," also hit on some of the core debates around games.

Any thoughts? Has anyone attended a really successful exhibition of games? What would one look like? How do you present the game as an object for contemplation within the context of the museum? Do games expose this rather outdated framework?

Going to NY this summer, I

Going to NY this summer, I might have to make a stop by this museum! I agree though that to just put these on display is kind of lame though, they should have interactive displays..


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