News: William A. Higinbotham Game Studies Collection

November 2014

Watch the new Xbox Documentary: "Atari: Game Over"
"Atari: Game Over" is the Xbox Originals documentary that chronicles the fall of the Atari Corporation through the lens of one of the biggest mysteries of all time, dubbed “The Great Video Game Burial of 1983.” As the story goes, the Atari Corporation, faced with an overwhelmingly negative response to “E.T.,” the video game for the Atari 2600, disposed of hundreds of thousands of unsold game cartridges by burying them in the small town of Alamogordo, New Mexico.

August 12, 2014

Article: "The William A. Higinbotham Game Studies Collection at Stony Brook University" by Kristen J. Nyitray and Raiford Guins.
Read the article published in Metropolitan Archivist, Volume 20, No. 2, Summer 2014, pp. 6-9.

August 7, 2014

Article: "Why We Dug Atari": "Punk archaeologists" explain that they went looking for more than just video-game cartridges in a New Mexico landfill.
Read the article published in The Atlantic by authors William Caraher, Raiford Guins, ​Andrew Reinhard, Richard Rothaus, and Bret Weber.

October 22, 2013

Join us October 22 at 7 p.m. in the MAGNET Lecture Hall at New York University for the premiere screening of When Games Went Click: The Story of Tennis for Two. This exhibition length documentary (18 minutes) details the history of the 1958 analog computer game, Tennis for Two, its historical Cold War context, its place in game history, and includes exclusive interviews and footage of the current Tennis for Two reconstruction project underway at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

For more information, please visit:
Facebook invitation web page
NYU Game Center blog

October 18, 2013

"The World's First Videogame?"
55 Years ago, William Higinbotham's "Tennis for Two" wowed vistors to BNL and ushered in a new era.
By Howard Gimple

June 3, 2012

Article: "When Defending Earth Cost 25 Cents," by Ethan Gilsdorf. Published online and in print on June 4, 2012 (page C1) in the New York edition of The New York Times.

The New York Times,

February 1, 2012

The William A. Higinbotham Game Studies Collection is the recipient of the 2012 "Douglas A. Noverr Grant for Collection Enhancement for Institutions to Build Popular Culture and American Culture Research Collections." The $5,000 award is sponsored by the Popular Culture Association and the American Culture Association. The grant was prepared by Kristen Nyitray, Head, Special Collections and University Archives/University Archivist; Laine Nooney, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Cultural Analysis and Theory; and Raiford Guins, Associate Professor of Digital Cultural Studies, Department of Cultural Analysis and Theory.

Funding will support the archive of Tennis for Two, the world’s first interactive, screen-based computer game developed by William A. Higinbotham in 1958, and expand the William A. Higinbotham Game Studies Collection (WHGSC), a larger collection development initiative at Stony Brook University that focuses on the history of video games.

September 15, 2011

"The Beginnings of Video Games": Special Event at the Museum of the Moving Image to be held on October 1, 2011.

Read the presentation given by the WHGSC Team.

View photographs from the event.

June 17, 2011

Professor Raiford Guins of the Department of Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies (SBU), Kristen J. Nyitray, Head of Special Collections and University Archives/University Archivist (SBU), and Peter Takacs of Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) have been awarded a $9,000 joint seed grant from SBU and BNL to produce a documentary film on the history of the world's first interactive computer game "Tennis for Two" and the current efforts to reconstruct the game. William A. Higinbotham designed "Tennis for Two" in 1958 at BNL.

Funding from the grant will also support:

  • the acquisition of the analog and electronic components required to rebuild "Tennis for Two";
  • publishing in digital format the documentary on the WHGSC website for public access;
  • the distribution of archival quality copies of the documentary to: SBU’s Library; BNL’s archive; the Lemelson Center for Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian Museum of American History; The Library of Congress; the Computer History Museum; The Strong National Museum of Play; and to public libraries in the vicinity of BNL;
  • a series of public screenings of the documentary coupled with lectures at SBU and BNL.

June 2011

Kristen J. Nyitray's (Head of Special Collections and University Archives/University Archivist) article “William Alfred Higinbotham: Scientist, Activist, and Computer Game Pioneer,” was published recently in IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 96-101, Apr.-June 2011.

May 2011

Librarians Kristen Nyitray and Hélène Volat and Professor Raiford Guins of the Department of Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies (CLCS) have been awarded a $6,000 FAHSS Interdisciplinary Initiatives Grant.

mario.jpgFAHSS is a research and interdisciplinary initiatives fund supported by the Offices of the Provost, Vice President for Research, and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University. The initiative encourages interdisciplinary dialogue, research, and teaching in the Fine Arts, Humanities, and lettered Social Sciences. Funding from the grant will support a workshop and a public program that focus on documenting and preserving videogame history and culture. The events will be held at the Museum of the Moving Image later this year.

In Fall 2011, after two years of teamwork between the University Libraries and CLCS, the William A. Higinbotham Game Studies Collection (WHGSC) will be launched. The collection will invest in and be dedicated to the scholarly study and material preservation of electronic screen-based game media, related texts, ephemera, and artifacts. SBU’s prominent location near NYC makes the collection a desirable research location for academic, journalistic, amateur and independent scholars nationwide. Specific project outcomes include the development of:

• a research center for the history and work of early game innovator and Brookhaven National Laboratory scientist William A. Higinbotham, who invented the analog computer game, Tennis for Two in 1958, as well as for the material culture of games, including consoles, handhelds, peripherals, cartridges and box art, magazines, popular press and scholarly books, etc. SBU will be active in the larger community of preservation and will make a considerable contribution to the general study of game history via its documentation of Higinbotham’s invention.

• a fully functioning laboratory where faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates can access vintage consoles for research purposes, many of which are largely inaccessible to individuals due to cost, rarity and obsolescence.

Image credit: mario bros screenshot by Nicolasnova.

May 3, 2011

Article published on
DePaul Levels Up on Video Game Collection

April 24, 2011

Article published in The Chronicle of Higher Education:
Video-Game Rooms Become the Newest Library Space Invaders

December 21, 2010

Article published in North Shore Sun:
Brookhaven National Lab Physicists Restore Original Video Game

April 16, 2010

Article published in The Escapist:
New York School Wants Ultimate Video Game Collection

April 13, 2010

Article published in Go Nintendo:
Stony Brook University Starting Video Game Archive

Article published in Game
NY School Assembling Video Game Archive

November 12, 2009

Article published in
Video Game History at Stony Brook University

William A. Higinbotham

William HiginbothamAfter reading an instruction manual that accompanied a Systron-Donner 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

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