Did you know that in Frisco, Texas lies a time capsule filled with the relics of #videogames from another age? A time stocked with promises of simpler premises and rudimentary gameplay, where orchestral suites were performed by an array of beeps and whirrs, and where tape, floppy disks and cartridges were our windows into fantasy locales and distant galaxies.
This time capsule, or Frisco’s Discover Center, is home to The National Videogame Museum (NVM) and within its walls rest some of the rarest gaming systems, prototypes and cartridges from a bygone era.
Dedicated to preserving the history of the video games industry by cataloging as much information and as many physical artifacts as possible, the NVM has collated over 100,000 units of treasure including gems such as the 1990 #Nintendo World Championships cartridge and an #Atari Mindlink controller, of which there are just two in the world. Oh, and there’s also 25 years worth of data archives and historical documents hiding within these hallowed walls
But, to much adoration, the NVM isn’t one of those “look, but don’t you dare touch” affairs. If you want to get your hands on some of gaming history’s most elusive tech, the NVM’s got your back with a number of awesome installations on hand.
Head over to Pixel Dreams where you can fondle the joysticks of the past in an 80s-style arcade complete with Asteroids and Donkey Kong, then there’s the Head-to-Head Hall where you can take your friends and family on in battles across over 12,000 games on ten different systems. Impressive, right?
Keepers Of The Digital Lore
This mean feat was conducted by retro gaming enthusiasts and buds John Hardie, Sean Kelly and Joe Santulli, who traded the humble act of displaying their super-rare wares at conventions and expos for presiding over one of the most vital shrines to the constantly maturing artform.
Friends since the early 90s, the brains behind the NVM have been steadily hunting down tidbits of history since for over three decades, because they believe there is more to the industry than it being a simple pastime. John Hardie went on to reiterate this in an insightful interview with Dallas Culture Map.
“Each of us, before we even met, always found there was a lot more to discover about the history of the game. A lot of that added to the excitement and the total package to figure out who programmed certain games, then tracking them down and talking to them about what it was like developing those games.”
All of this was conducted at a time before email and eBay, so you have to admire the sheer dedication of the men, whose traveling museum had even delighted onlookers at events as illustrious as #E3.
“It was at a time where we would literally go to a city and steal a phonebook out of a hotel so that we could cold call hundreds of people.”
And it was exactly these conventions and expos that would give the boys the motivation, the simple idea, to find a home for the history of video games and found their own museum. But after failing to find the perfect haunt, even in Silicon Valley (where Atari was born) of all places, up stepped Gearbox Software’s Randy Pitchford to save the day.
Getting in contact with the three historians, Pitchford suggested that maybe they should pitch up camp in Frisco, Texas. They agreed, and so did the City of Frisco who voted to finishing building the yet-completed part of the Discovery Center to house the NVM.
“I think the city of Frisco was very forward-thinking. They wanted to develop a cultural center of museums; they have a railroad museum now, and the Sci-Tech Discovery Center is already here. So I think that was part of their master plan, to get various cultural activities involved here, museum-wise, and we fit in.”
Now across 10,000 square feet of pure nostalgic gold, the National Videogame Museum is open for gamers of all ages to venture through the pixels of the past, and see how their favorite games came to be in the first place. But, man, enough chitter-chatter. I’m sure you want to have a look at some of the stuff the NVM has on display, right?
Inside The NVM
Here are a few snaps of some of the wildest goods available to gawp at within the NVM:
The Nintendo World Championship 1990 Cart (Worth $11,000)
Donkey Kong Country Competition Cartridge (Worth between $1500-5000)
Coca Cola Game Gear
White Atari 2600
We’ve all known video games to be more than a waste of time or an excuse to excuse yourself from a wack get together. Video games are now as vital to modern day storytelling as cinema, television and a good book. So it’s high time the industry got its own church for it to be worshipped. Don’t you think?