Library and Archival Collections

The library and archival collections of the International Center for the History of Electronic Games® (ICHEG) include books, periodicals, strategy guides, trade catalogs, and other printed materials together with personal papers, design documents, business records, and other unpublished materials that document the history of video games and other electronic games and the ways in which they affect how people play, learn, and connect with each other, including across boundaries of culture and geography. The ICHEG library and archival holdings are housed in The Strong’s Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play.

Atari Arcade Design Collection, 1973-1991

Atari created the modern arcade industry with its development of Computer Space, Pong, and other coin-operated games in the 1970s and 1980s. This collection of more than 250 design plans and concept sketches documents the thinking behind such Atari arcade cabinets as the first racing game Gran Trak 10, the pioneering 3-D dogfight simulator Red Baron, the legendary dungeon crawl title Gauntlet, and many others. The list includes Pin Pong, the barrel and cocktail variations of Pong, the 4-player version of Football, Touch Me (the game that inspired Ralph Baer’s creation of Simon), Capcom’s Street Fighter, S.T.U.N. Runner, Dodgem, Peter Pack Rat, Gremlins (never released), and Qwak!. The concept drawings feature the work of Atari artists Regan Cheng, Barney Huang, Pete Takaichi, and Ken Hata, among others.

Ralph H. Baer Papers, 1960s–2009

Ralph H. Baer invented the Brown Box prototype of Magnavox Odyssey—the first home video console (1972)—and contributed importantly to the development of commercial and educational electronic toys and games for four decades afterward. This extensive collection documents, in particular, his work with video game pioneer Jay Smith III, the toy design firm Marvin Glass and Associates, and toy and game designer Phillip E. Orbanes. Represented games and toys include Computer Perfection, Maniac, M.A.S.K. Laser Command, Smarty Bear, Sounds By Me, Simon, and numerous others licensed to firms such as Coleco, Ideal, Kenner, and Milton Bradley. Included are sketches, notes, specifications, schematics, patent information, correspondence, two compact discs, and one DVD.

Dan Bunten (Dani Bunten Berry) Papers, 1949-1998

One of the most important game programmers during the era of personal computer development, Dan Bunten pioneered multiplayer games. His Wheeler Dealers (1978) became one of the first boxed computer games; his landmark multiplayer game M.U.L.E. (1983) helped inspire future generations of multiplayer game developers; and his Modem Wars (1988) became the first game to take advantage of modems for game play. Other Bunten games included Robot Rascals, Heart of Africa, Cartels & Cutthroats, Cyber Masters, and Computer Quarterback. The Bunten papers contain business records of the Ozark Softscape company, game concept documents and descriptions, press clippings, personal documents, and photographs.

Books and Periodicals

The more than 10,000 gaming and computer magazines in this collection provide a telling barometer of the rise and fall in popularity of individual video games and the companies who created them from the 1970s to the present. Included is a special collection of more than 8,000 items in the Kevin Gifford Video Game Magazine Collection (see the separate description of that material). Also included here is a large selection of books related to electronic games of all types.

Computer Gaming World Collection,
1982 – 2000s

For two decades, Computer Gaming World magazine ranked among the most important magazines for the video game industry, documenting both electronic game development and play in America. This collection, originally retained by the magazine’s publishers as the official archive of Computer Gaming World, is comprised of more than 100 issues, from volume 2 in 1982 through the last issue in 2006, when the title changed to Games for Windows. Volumes in the collection contain articles by many of the most important video game pioneers, such as Dan Bunten and Chris Crawford, as well as legends of pen-and-paper gaming like Dave Arneson.

Don Daglow Papers, 1977–2010

Don Daglow has been a video game designer, programmer, and producer since the early 1970s. He is best known for pioneering simulation games, the first computer baseball game, and the first graphical massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). This collection includes computer code, sketches, personal papers, and other materials related to his Neverwinter Nights, Diplomax, Off the Wall, and Utopia games. Miscellaneous additional papers are also present.

See also “Creating an Ideal Community.

Kevin Gifford Video Game Magazine Collection, 1970s–present

Assembled by video game magazine collector, writer, and translator Kevin Gifford, this group of more than 8,000 individual periodicals includes titles such Nintendo Power, Atari Age, Next Generation, Electronic Games, Official US PlayStation Magazine, Creative Computing, BYTE, and many more. The collection is especially strong in magazines from the United States and the United Kingdom, with significant representation of Japanese gaming publications. Collectively, the magazines richly document both the evolution the video game industry since the 1970s and how important elements of the print media covered and interpreted the industry and the individuals and companies that built it.

Gerald A. “Jerry” Lawson Collection, 1967-1994

Pioneering African-American engineer Jerry Lawson helped revolutionize the video game industry through his design of the Fairchild Channel F, the first video game system to use interchangeable cartridges. An early member of the Homebrew Computer Club, Lawson went on to found Video Soft, Inc. in 1980. This collection includes three generations of Fairchild Channel F prototype Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs), a Fairchild Channel F (1976), and a Channel F System II (1979) owned by Lawson. Also included are more than two dozen  games, including Channel F and Video Soft prototype cartridges; a game originally produced for the first video game-themed television show, TV Powww!; a copy of the rare Video Soft Color Bar Generator utility cartridge; design documents on the Channel F (including a blueprint of the Channel F console case); and other design documents and business records from Video Soft.

View the Gerald A. "Jerry" Lawson finding aid.

Prima Games Collection, 1990 to present

This growing collection of more than 1,250 titles includes a copy of almost every strategy guide and cheat codes book issued by Prima Games, the leading publisher of strategy content for PC and console video games, from 1990 to the present. 

See also “A Generous Gift of Video Game Guides.

Trade Catalogs

This collection includes more than 1,500 video and other electronic game catalogs, arcade-game fliers, and advertising pieces. They document the production, evolution, and marketing of electronic games from the 1970s. Companies represented in the collection include Coleco, Parker Brothers, Atari, and Magnavox, among others.

Ken and Roberta Williams Collection, 1979–1996

Ken and Roberta Williams founded the Sierra On-Line computer game company in 1979 and developed it into one of the leading and most influential video game companies of the next two decades. Games they designed and produced ranked among the most popular of the era and included the first graphical computer adventure game, Mystery House; the first third-person graphical adventure game, King’s Quest; and dozens of other noted titles, such as The Black Cauldron, Mixed-Up Mother Goose, Leisure Suit Larry, Gabriel Knight, and Phantasmagoria. Though these and other games, Ken and Roberta Williams pioneered the use of animation, video, and humor in computer games. The collection includes more than 140 examples of Sierra On-Line games plus design documents, artwork, press releases, annual reports, copies of the company magazine (Interaction), newspaper clippings, photographs, and miscellaneous memorabilia and other material.

Will Wright Papers, 1989–2010

Will Wright, co-founder of the game development company Maxis, now part of Electronic Arts (EA), is best known for designing the video games series SimCity and The Sims. These papers consist chiefly of nine notebooks containing Wright’s original drawings, sketches, and notes for SimCity 2000 (1993), SimCopter (1996), The Sims (2000), and Spore (2008). The materials illustrate how Wright brainstormed ideas, conceptualized play mechanics, and outlined presentations about the games.

See also “Will Wright's Video Game Notebooks.