The Virtual World of LEGOs

The Virtual World of LEGOs

LEGO Systems, Inc. trade catalog, 1977, from The Stephen and Diane Olin Toy Catalog Collection, courtesy of The Strong, Rochester, New York.When Danish carpenter Ole Christiansen sensed a demand for inexpensive, quality playthings in the 1930s, he crafted wooden blocks and other toys and soon founded LEGO. In 1949, the company produced a set of red and white interlocking plastic bricks entitled “Automatic Building Blocks.” For decades, LEGO sets have provided children and adults with hours of creative play. In 1997, electronic game developer and publisher Mindscape introduced the construction toy to virtual play with LEGO Island.

Jordan Mechner Collection Documents Revolution in Game Graphics

Jordan Mechner Collection Documents Revolution in Game Graphics

A century ago, Max and Dave Fleischer, two brothers from Brooklyn, developed a device that allowed animators to capture live-action events frame by frame. They tested their system on the roof of Max’s apartment building, where Dave, wearing a black clown suit, cavorted in front of a white sheet. Max captured the movements on film…

A Second Revolution in Game Distribution

A Second Revolution in Game Distribution

Biologists who study the fossil record note that dramatic blooms in the number and diversity of species interrupt long periods of stasis or gradual change in animal forms. Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould termed this phenomenon “punctuated equilibrium” and wrote a book, Wonderful Life, about the sudden efflorescence of fossils during the Cambrian period about 550…

Pirates Sail on the Video Game Screen

Pirates Sail on the Video Game Screen

Homer and Cicero wrote about incidents involving sea robbers that threatened the trading routes of Ancient Greece and Rome more than 2,000 years ago. Since then, each era has encountered new brands of pirates. Popular culture today glorifies the picture of a band of outlaws who are guided by the wind and their own set…

The Lasting Appeal of Chase Games

The Lasting Appeal of Chase Games

Frequently my two-year-old daughter Sidney greets me with two words: “chase, Daddy.” It’s a request that usually leads to lots of laughter and me circling around tables and chairs as I chase her throughout our house. In psychologist Peter Gray’s book Free to Learn, he notes that young mammals of nearly all species play chase…

Study or Visit Space with this Video Game Series

Study or Visit Space with this Video Game Series

Physicists and astronomers tend to maintain two schools of thoughts on space exploration. The first school focuses on cost management and quick results and concludes that robotic, unmanned missions prove the best approach to space exploration. The second school advocates for humans to travel to space. “It’s our prerogative as an intelligent species, our cosmic…

Hunting for Easter Eggs

Hunting for Easter Eggs

I recently read Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One. The story captivated me and likely appeals to other gaming fans, especially those who—like me—happen to love 1980s pop-culture. Although the book takes place in the future, the plot encouraged me to think more about games from the past. In Ready Player One, America becomes a…

Preserving John Romero’s First Computer at ICHEG

Preserving John Romero’s First Computer at ICHEG

ICHEG collects a vast array of materials. Sometimes they come in groups of thousands, like the archives of the Atari Coin-Op divisions we acquired, and sometimes they come in ones and twos, like John Romero’s first Apple II+ computer and design notebook that he donated. John recently joined us in installing these items in The…

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Pinball: Two Pieces of American Culture

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Pinball: Two Pieces of American Culture

L. Frank Baum’s classic novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, captivated generations of audiences with its iconic characters, adventurous storyline, and captivating setting. Published in 1900, the novel inspired countless adaptations in a variety of mediums including stage plays, films, novels, and video games. The Wizard of Oz film, released in 1939 by MGM, remains…

Inside the Atari Coin-Op Divisions Collection: What’s in an Ad?

Inside the Atari Coin-Op Divisions Collection: What’s in an Ad?

Recently The Strong acquired a colossal collection of materials related to Atari’s coin-operated video game and pinball divisions.