The Opinion Herd: Video Game Museums
All of us here on staff are big into preserving the history of video games. I think we all believe video games need to be preserved as much as the most famous works of art, books and movies do. We’ve talked about whether emulation is a viable way to preserve games that are quickly being lost to time and what needs to be done to make sure these games remain playable in some form for future generations. Our question this week, “You’re in charge of starting a video game museum. What games or artifacts would be the focal point of your most important exhibit?”
Tony Says: There are obvious choices I would have to go with. As far as games are concerned there are plenty I would like to choose from, but I think there are some that would be more important than others. One would be Pac-Man. I think that, being one of the most popular games of all-time, would be a good choice. It really brought the idea of a video game into the mainstream consciousness. Pac-Man machines were literally everywhere for a number of years.
Another would be Super Mario Bros. I think it’s one of the most important because it brought video games back from the brink of destruction. The crash in the mid 80’s, courtesy of Atari, meant video games were falling out of favor, but Nintendo’s release of the popular side-scrolling game really lead to the industry we have today. Without SMB we wouldn’t even be sitting here talking about the subject.
Then I would go with something more modern to show how video games progressed and improved as not only gameplay mediums, but also in terms of storytelling. I think Portal 2 is a must have for any video game museum. It really brought story telling into a game and did it in a way that made you paid attention to every word the characters said (some of which you never actually see). Not only that, but it was funny.
Micah Says: If I had my own video game museum, I’d be sure to have a great focus on arcade games. I always thought it’d be cool to open a multi-level arcade museum where you could have a different decade featured on every floor. Everything, including the games, music, and decorations, would be pulled right from the 70′s, 80′s, and 90′s. I also think it’d be cool to see prototypes, concept art, and other pre-production exhibits to show the creative process that leads up to a finished product. That would be the true one-of-a-kind exhibit I’d like to see.
Shannon Says: My museum would be mainly focused around handheld gaming. The main exhibit would be an original Game Boy and would focus on how it’s developed over the years. I would also have a specific place where you could listen to the unique sounds from each Game Boy; from the original to the micro. Maybe even show how so many DJs have modded the originals to have a high-quality output for making songs well over 20 years past its original release.
Shelby Says: I have thought about this before. Starting a video game museum is a dream of mine actually. My focal exhibit would be the five most important titles that solidified video games for North America; Pong, Super Mario Bros., Tetris, Halo: Combat Evolved and World Of Warcraft.
Who doesn’t know what Pong is? It’s the first video game. The simplistic nature of the two paddles and the ball were enough to bring your television to life like never before. Pong opened the door for video games to be born. Sadly, it also led to their near death.
Super Mario Bros. single handedly revived video games from the 1983 crash. America was done with games after Atari had squandered so much good will. Games were about to fade away like disco. Thankfully, “Marlio and his little blother” came along to rescue the princess, and an entertainment medium for a whole country.
SMB may be the most important title for video games but I believe Tetris is the best video game ever. Think about it. Tetris has been on more platforms than anything else; relatively unchanged. Sure they’ve added different modes and some versus battle, but you are still stacking the same seven blocks from the first game.
Halo is a great game. Halo: Combat Evolved took the basis laid by Goldeneye and took it to the next level; paving the way for the most popular genre in North America. Thanks to Halo, first-person shooters have exploded on consoles. Sure, things like Doom and Quake existed long before on the PC but they can’t hold a candle to the money Call Of Duty rakes in.
Likewise, what Halo did for first-person shooters, World of Warcraft has done to bring games into a social medium for players around the world. Oddly, people that play WOW are regarded as homebodies that never see the light of day. Even more odd, WOW has defined a genre while also potentially dooming it to failure. WOW is so loved, so perfected, so integrated, that no other MMORPG can survive. Eventually WOW has to die but what will be there to take its place? Can anything fill that role? What other game has that kind of power?
This would be my exhibit. These five games, the history behind them and the impact they have on video game culture. Both North America and the world of video games own a lot to these titles. The words of Winston Churchill spring to mind. “Never has so much been owed by so many to so few.” Granted that quote was about saving England and the entire world, but I think it applies.