International Center for the History of Electronic Games

International Center for the History of Electronic Games

The National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, later known as The Strong, created the International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) in 2009. The ICHEG collects, studies, and interprets how video games and electronic games affect the ways people play, learn, and connect across cultural and geographical boundaries.1 They do this through their collections of artifacts, their interactive exhibits, a weekly blog, and publishing articles and reviews in the American Journal of Play.

The International Center for the History of Electronic Games collects and preserves electronic games, which include video games, computer games, arcade games, console games, handheld games, and toys that include digital components. They also gather game-related items, such as game packaging, advertising, publications, and game-related consumer products as well as personal and business papers of pioneers in the electronic game industry.2 These collections illustrate how electronic games have been “conceived, developed, sold, and used and the impact they have on people's lives.”3

The main categories of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games’ collection include the Arcade Video Game Collection, the Game System (Hardware) Collection, the Game (Software) Collection, and the Library and Archival Collections.4

The Arcade Video Game Collection involves more than 120 games through four different eras and categories: Early Games, 1971-1978; Golden Age Games, 1978-1985; Vector-Based Graphic Games, 1977-1985; and Simulator Specialty Games, 1985-present.5

The Gaming System (Hardware) Collection includes a console collection that has an example of every major console - even some international systems, a handheld collection of more than 200 different handheld games and systems, a personal computer collection from 1979-present, and hundreds of children's electronic toys.6

The ICHEG's Game (Software) Collection showcases over 17,000 games in the categories of Console Games (1972-present), Computer Games (1978 to present), and Educational Games (1978-present). These games include classic titles as well as rare items, such as the NES Nintendo World Championships 1990.7

Even though only a portion of their artifacts are on display, the full ICHEG collection is available to researchers by appointment. An online collections catalog is also available.8

An interactive exhibit, ICHEG's eGameRevolution, combines their collections in highlighting electronic games through the interpretive framework of “Concentric Circles: A Lens for Exploring the History of Electronic Games.” Using the metaphor of a camera lens, this framework zooms out from the tight focus of the specific games to a look at the manufacturing of the games, to the games' impact on society, and to the place electronic games have in the world of play.9 This exhibit includes playing classic video games through the last four decades, including the latest console games.10

All of these collections are enhanced by being housed with The Strong's National Museum of Play, where there are interactive play adventures and displays of dolls, games, toys, and other play-related items. Also housed at The Strong is the National Toy Hall of Fame, which honors significant toys throughout history, including the Atari 2600 Game System and the Nintendo Game Boy.11

The ICHEG Library and Archival Collections include books and periodicals, trade catalogs, the Prima Games Collection, and papers of leaders in the industry: Dan Bunten (Dani Bunten Berry), Ralph H. Baer, Don Daglow, and Will Wright.12

Reaching beyond the museum, the International Center for the History of Electronic Games publishes the weekly online blog, CHEGheads, where experts spotlight different artifacts and discuss the past, present, and future of electronic gaming.

  • 1. “ICHEG Library and Archival Collections.” Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play. < http://www.libraryandarchivesofplay.org/collections/icheg-library-archival > 5 April 2011.
  • 2. “About.” International Center for the History of Electronic Games. < http://www.icheg.org/about > 4 April 2011.
  • 3. “Collections.” International Center for the History of Electronic Games. <http://www.icheg.org/collections> 5 April 2011.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. “Arcade Video Game Collections.” International Center for the History of Electronic Games. < http://www.icheg.org/collections/arcade > 5 April 2011.
  • 6. “Gaming System (Hardware) Collections.” International Center for the History of Electronic Games. < http://www.icheg.org/collections/gaming-system > 5 April 2011.
  • 7. “Game (Software) Collections. International Center for the History of Electronic Games. < http://www.icheg.org/collections/game > 5 April 2011.
  • 8. “Research.” International Center for the History of Electronic Games. < http://www.icheg.org/research > 5 April 2011.
  • 9. “Game History.” International Center for the History of Electronic Games. < http://www.icheg.org/game-history > 5 April 2011.
  • 10. “Things to See & Do.” International Center for the History of Electronic Games. < http://www.icheg.org/see-do > 5 April 2011.
  • 11. “Inducted Toys: Alphabetical List.” National Toy Hall of Fame. < http://www.toyhalloffame.org/toys > 5 April 2011.
  • 12. Op.cit., “ICHEG Library and Archival Collections.”