Monday, September 10, 2012

Gaming History Expands


With another temporary museum opening up to pay tribute to our gaming past, this one in China, it makes me wonder more and more about the type of content that is placed into these exhibitions.

The Smithsonian asked for help from the nation to help narrow down their selections on what should be showcased. Others focused on whatever they had available in their closet or could borrow from friends.

As we’re seeing more and more of gaming history turning people into thousand- airs, our past with games has become a value. Not just monetary, though that has been helping spur this increase in museum tours, but sentimental.

You know why the Smithsonian is as awesome as it is and attracts so many people every year to visit D.C.? It’s the museum of everything. Literally everything. The giant archive that sits below the museum as visualized in Night at the Museum 2 and depicted in The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown really exists. It’s the place where you can see relics from the American Revolution to Abe’s hats. But what really stands out are the entertainment paraphernalia. Archie Bunker’s couch. Dorthy’s ruby red slippers. James T. Kirk’s uniform from the first season of star trek. Michael Jackon’s “Bad” jacket (which I remember seeing when I was 16 being right next to something from FDR, and laughing hysterically for 15 minutes).

Movies, television, music, theater: these all touch our lives in ways that most politicians can only dream of. I bet if I spouted off the name Bill Clinton you might be able to talk about the Lewinsky allegations, if you’re over the age of 25 that is. But does anyone remember what policies he enacted while in office? Or that he held a military campaign for the single largest bombing run in one day in US history? Probably not. But if you’re in the same age range you remember the final episode of Seinfeld, what happened to Rachel and Ross, and the Ruban/Clay results for American Idol.

Video games have come into that aspect of reality. No longer mindless, they speak a lot about who we are today and how they shaped our lives. We remember the first time we used Mario’s fireball power to defeat Bowser, or sending Frogger out onto the road just before a truck flattens him. Those are the memories we cherish and remind us of better times. And as games have matured, so do our memories. We learn from them morals and a sense of self much like tv, movies, and theater has done. And they stick out in our mind as more memorable than anything we could experience in reality.

To be cliché because this is the best example, you remember when Aeris died how you felt and the internal turmoil you were experiencing. (Even though mine was more of a pissed off emotional outburst because it jacked up my group dynamics for battle, there was turmoil!) You probably don’t remember President Obama’s inauguration address.

I’d be interested to see museums expand more on video games. Not just for interaction but for historical preservation. We’re at the point where the original Atari and Calicovision cartridges will no longer hold together. Much like Dorothy’s slippers, it’s our duty to keep our past in tact for future generations to appreciate. It might be a video game to some, but they hold a lot of valuable memories to others.

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