FRISCO (CBSDFW.COM) – In 1972, a simple video game called “Pong” started a revolution. Now, a couple of video game fanatics have created a national museum to showcase just how far they have come.
“There were exhibits with in the Smithsonian or The Strong Museum of Play, but not a dedicated one in this country. And we were surprised there are national game museums in other countries. But our country, where it was all born, doesn’t,” said Joe Santulli, co-founder of the National Videogame Museum.
Now, it does. The National Videogame Museum in Frisco takes you through the history of the industry.
While it is a learning experience, the creators say that you should come ready to play. “It’s hands on. It’s a tactile experience. You should play games. It’s a visceral thing. It’s not meant to be a thing where you stand and read,” Santulli said.
You should know that the video game industry has not been all fun and games. In the museum, they highlight the crash of 1983, which some attribute to the Atari game “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”
“A lot of people have misconceptions that it’s all because the game ‘E.T.’ was bad and it tanked the whole industry,” Santulli said, “but the fact is it’s a lot more complex than that.”
Santulli said that companies with no experience were trying to cash in on the craze. Also, home computers were becoming affordable while some systems were slow and clunky, like this Coleco. “The technology was bad. Clearly this was poor design. In fact, you had to have the printer connected to the power supply in order to have the computer work,” Santulli said.
But, eventually, “Super Mario Bros.” would come along and resurrect the industry.
The museum features a retro living room and a typical 1980s arcade with classics such as “Donkey Kong” and “Frogger.” “The beauty of ‘Frogger’ is there are no buttons, just a four-directional joystick. Anyone can play it,” Santulli said. “It is deceptively difficult.”
You may have thought that it was ‘game over’ for these classics years ago but, at the National Videogame Museum, they live to play another day.