Center offers chance to game through history
Published: Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 20:08
With the creation of Xbox 360, Wii and PS3, the gaming industry is at its highest, catering to the gamers of the technological generation. But in what is known as the "Golden Age of Gaming," a period from the late 1970s to early 1990s, the arcade is what truly ruled the game world.
In the Orange County Regional History Center (OCRHC), located in downtown Orlando, a returning exhibit explores this age of pinball machines, Nintendos and the infamous arcade games, themselves.
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The display, "Games People Play: The Evolution of Video Games," was originally conceived in September of 2007, introduced then as Video Stuff, as a complement to a similar exhibit for old toys. Games People Play was reintroduced for the history center's 10th Anniversary Exhibition, where a select few of the center's past popular displays were brought out of storage for the public to explore once more.
Curator of exhibits, Michael Perkins, described the immense popularity the display showed so far.
"It's been very well received," Perkins said. "It plays to everybody's age; it's just very cool for people who want to try [the games] out or people who grew up with them."
Not only will visitors explore the history of video games and the social aspects to the ever-increasing gaming industry, but guests can literally play their way through this interactive display. A host to arcade games such as Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Asteroids and two classic pinball machines, the display is as much informative as it is hands-on.
"The idea with interactives in general within a museum is that it's so ridiculously easy, anybody can do it," Perkins said in regard to the gaming systems available.
Unfortunately for the die-hard Halo and Wii Sports fans, the games are primarily focused around the "Golden Age of Gaming." Perkins explained that, through safety, insurance and potential theft issues, the newer systems could not be included without a docent continuously on the clock.
However, that doesn't mean the fun has been spoiled. Quite the contrary.
The OCRHC offers four retro game nights a year, with the next one to take place on Friday, Sept. 23, where guests get a chance to play with even more systems, including an Atari 2600 and a Commodore 64; there are also basic board games. Because of the immense popularity shown through these night events, the center has decided to put on a retro gaming day on Sept. 17, run through Family Lab, the Orlando-based art and technology collective.
Sherry Lewis, director of marketing and public relations for OCRHC, said the upcoming gaming day has a lot to offer the UCF community.
"[It's a chance] to demonstrate and assist people who want to try the older games," Lewis said. "We really want to reach out because we do have fun things for the UCF crowd that they're just not aware of."
UCF students are offered a discount admission ticket, which includes other exhibits within the OCRHC, as well. Students with access to old gaming systems they no longer want are also encouraged to donate. The systems can be placed on display for the use of the general community. Pictures are also allowed to be taken within the exhibit. However, it is strongly stressed that flash photography is prohibited.
The exhibit closes Sept. 25, when, curator of education Paul Wenglowsky explains, the majority of gaming systems will go back into storage.
"[Though] we've extended the run till the 25th, this exhibit will get torn down," Wenglowsky said. "A lot of it will be packed away into storage and archives, but if it gains enough interest, maybe it could be loaned off to other facilities."
Games People Play is an opportunity for students to learn more about the culture, the history and the social consequences of the increase in popularity for video games, as well as a chance to play some old favorites. For more information about the exhibit, check out OCRHC's website at http://www.thehistorycenter.org/exhibits/gamespeopleplay.
"Video games have had a tremendous impact on our culture and society and in how we live and how we play, and there is a lot of local component and element here that relates to video games," Perkins said. "They're just sitting there waiting to be played."