Category Archives: museum

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CGE 2014 – It’s History

Playing video games has always been tagged as being a rather solitary pastime, even when you consider the ubiquity of online gaming today. Sure, you might be in a shooter with 24 other people, but you don’t see them and probably have never met them IRL, and communication is generally on the level of potty-mouthed trash talk over a tinny mic. In my youth I played a lot with friends in front of my C64 (see: M.U.L.E.), but when I tally up all of the game time, statistically speaking I was by myself playing video games.

Now, collecting retro video games might seem to demand a certain amount of face time with other like-minded traders, looking to score deals and complete collections. However, with the advent of eBay and other online venues for classic game purchasing and trading, it’s possible you could pursue your hobby sequestered at home with your only connection to the outside world being a furtive peek through the curtains at your local UPS guy delivering your latest acquisition.

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Game shelves at the University of Michigan Computer + Video Game Archive, 2013

A Visit to the Computer & Video Game Archive at UM

In The Round River Drive, a short story written by James MacGillivray and published in the Detroit News-Tribune in 1910, legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his rowdy crew march through the wilds of Michigan, in search of a cache of virgin trees to fell.  Tucked away in the basement of the Art, Architecture & Engineering Library, Duderstadt Center building at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is a treasure-trove of classic video and computer games that, while not virginal, is of such size and breadth as to give even the most looming, Bunyanesque gamer pause. In a large spacious room, those wishing to count the rings of video game redwoods can run the gamut from first-gen to latest-gen systems, all available for hands-on play.  It is the UM Library Computer + Video Game Archive, and it is a must-visit if you’re ever in the Ann Arbor area.  You can check their hours of operation and what services they offer here at their website.

As mentioned, there is pretty much every classic and modern game system, along with most of their available games, ready to play… although everything has to stay within the archive.  I spent some time there recently, and here are some pics from my visit:

The CVGA is a colossal collection of gaming goodness, which no one with even a passing interest in video game history should miss.  The public is welcome to come in and play, with visitor parking located nearby the Duderstadt Cente at UMich.  You won’t regret exploring this video game museum of Bunyanean proportions.

Video Games Invade the Smithsonian

Roger Ebert may have famously said that video games cannot be art, but the good people at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. know better.

They will be opening a new exhibit called The Art of Video Games, running from March 16th to September 30th, 2012.    In order to choose which games get inducted, the Smithsonian is currently requesting that the public vote for their choices.  The site currently has an online voting system active, allowing people to vote for 80 games across a pool of 240, across 5 gaming eras from the early Atari days to modern consoles.

It’s not a bad selection of games, although there’s always some puzzling omissions with these things.  But remember, it is an art museum, so they’re looking for visually impressive or beautiful games, not just ones of historical significance.  This might explain some of the choices they made.

Go vote for your favourites here.