NY School Assembling Video Game Archive

In order to complement the classes it offers on video game culture and history, Stony Brook University is in the throes of amassing an archive of videogames.

The student newspaper of the Long Island, New York-based school documents the efforts, which began with the acquisition of six historic consoles—the Atari 2600, a ColecoVision, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), a Super Nintendo, a Sega Genesis and a Nintendo 64. These systems will eventually be able to be played in a the Central Reading Room of the university’s library, while a permanent display of additional videogame material, from box art to magazines, will take up residence in the library’s Special Collection’s room.

The collection will be named the William A. Higinbotham Video and Computer Game Archive, to honor the man who created one of the world’s first electronic games, a title called Tennis for Two (pictured) which ran on an oscilloscope. As an aside, a video of the game in action at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, where Higinbotham invented it, can be seen on YouTube here.

Raiford Guins, a Stony Brook Cultural Studies Professor who teaches the videogame-related courses at Stony Brook, said that the collection would be selective and that the group hopes to “preserve the material history of video games.” While there is a budget attached to the project, it is small and Guins indicated that the group could use help, saying, “it’s only through donations that this will grow.”

The school is also planning a punk rock collection and already features an odd homage to data collection technologies as part of its Automatic Identification and Data Capture Archive.

Additionally, it’s hoped that the collection can eventually be used as a basis for coursework, as the article states, “A women’s studies lesson, for example, can explore how women are depicted in video games.”

The collection is expected to be open for all students to check out by 2011’s spring semester.

According to Guins’ bio, he is currently working on a book entitled Arcadeology: Excavations in Video Game History, Memory, and Preservation.

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