Collection Development Strategy

The curators of the William A. Higinbotham Game Studies Collection selectively identify, acquire, preserve, and provide access to primary, secondary, and special collections materials in their original formats. Items represented include, but are not limited to: video game consoles; game controllers and peripherals; game cartridges; game discs, and handheld games.

In addition to game hardware and software, game-related ephemera is collected, which consists of: video and computer game magazines; game catalogs; strategy guides; game boxes and cases; game instruction manuals; video and arcade game promotional materials; game memorabilia; photographs of arcades; and original publications on video game history and culture.

A philosophy that the WHGSC curators share is that through preservation strategies and curatorial models we gain a wider understanding of the video game not restricted to the game program, game-player interface, and display technologies. We come to see games as complex artifacts whereby every “part” – game engine, source code, platform, game schematics, console design, storage media, controllers, circuits, chips, boards, wires, buttons – as well as ephemera such as software box-art, arcade cabinet art, and marketing materials, to cite a few examples, possess significance and value for the documentation of social experience and popular cultural history. As such, we adopt a “material culture” strategy common to museums that collect video game artifacts like the Strong National Museum of Play (Rochester, NY) and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The WHGSC manages the material and ephemeral forms of video games as historical artifacts of popular cultural heritage so that students and researchers will have direct access to “original” hardware and software and to game ephemera, best expressed in our 2000 volume video game magazine collection, for purposes of scholarly study and learning.

William A. Higinbotham

William HiginbothamAfter reading an instruction manual that accompanied a Donner Scientific Company analog computer, William Alfred Higinbotham was inspired to design Tennis for Two, the first computer game to utilize handheld controllers and to display motion. It was also the first game to be played by general public, in this instance, attendees of “visitors day” at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in 1958. Learn More »

tennis for two