The process was six years in the making but the vision started nearly 40 years ago.
National Videogame Museum founders Sean Kelly, Joe Santulli and John Hardie played the Atari 2600, one of the first video game platforms, in the late 1970s. They didn’t know it at the time, but the building blocks started for the country’s first video game museum.
Surprising to the industry’s foreground in the state of California, the museum opened in Frisco on April 2. For Kelly and the founders, support was not hard to come by.
“We want you guys here,” said Kelly as he recollected his meeting with Frisco city officials. “We had a meeting with the city council and the mayor and they just loved the idea.”
The $12 admission gets you full access to the 10,000-square-foot exhibit that takes you through the history of the gaming industry. Pong, PCs, hand-helds, consoles new and classic all are on display put together by three guys and their personal collections. You’ll see glass displays with rare consoles and games like the Nintendo 64DD (only 10 released globally) and Pikachu-themed Game Boy Colors. The museum’s staged 80s rooms offers Duck Hunter on the Nintendo console giving you a time flash look and feel of a living room and a child’s bedroom from the decade.
“This is 30 years in the making,” said Kelly thinking of the museum’s collections. “Between the three of us, we have the largest collection of video game hardware, software, documentation and memorabilia, by far.”
And this is not your garden-variety ‘do not touch’ museum. Nearly every area has interactive or playable gaming systems. Pong is projected on a giant screen where you and a friend can play one of first sports simulation games. Various game titles like Mario Kart are accessible on consoles from the Nintendo 64 to the Wii U. I spent some of my time playing X-Men Legends on the PlayStation 2, a game not played since my youth.
But the museum’s backbone is the arcade room designed to look and feel like the arcades in the 80s. The room features classics like Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Mappy, just to name a few. Each ticket admission comes with four tokens playable at any game (you can re-up tokens with the retro token machine, staying with the theme of the room). Tallied on a scoreboard at the entrance are the high scores for each game. Think you can get your name up there?
The museum seems never ending. Spending nearly two hours playing and exploring and I still felt like there was more to do (there is still so much to play!). Games and consoles will be interchanged as nearly 50,000 square feet of gaming are stored waiting for their chance to be played.
Every wall is covered with flawless artwork. Characters stemming from Sonic, Crash Bandicoot and others decorate the area above the multiplayer section. A life-like statue from Castlevenia sits near the arcade room (you can’t miss it).
For the founders, this is just a place to share their ‘stuff.’ Kids from all ages played games made before they were born (…maybe even before their parents as well). Yet, maybe there is more to the museum than “play.” As Kelly said, maybe this will have a deeper impact to the gaming industry.
“You know what’s going to happen here?” said Kelly on an encounter with his friend prior to the opening of the museum. “You are going to have an 8-year-old kid walk through here and this is going to inspire them to make the next great game 10 or so years from now.”
For more information on the museum visit the web site here