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August 20, 2005

Game (almost) Over!

FYI, the Game On! Exhibit at Chicago's Museum of Science & Industry closes in just over 2 weeks - on Labor Day, Monday September 5th.

I took one of my classes there a few months ago (field trip!), and here's my very quick thumbnail review.

When I first walked in, I was very excited, because the first things I saw were a PDP-1 mainframe (of Steve Russell/Spacewar! fame), PONG, Nolan Bushnell's pre-PONG failure Computer Space (first coin-op video game), and this initially-impressive row of classic arcade cabinets.

However, as I walked through the too-short exhibit, I thought that they could have done a much better job. For example, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga (and a few others) are terrific, but where the hell were Defender and Pac-Man?

In general, the exhibit was pretty good, but it didn't deliver what it promised when I first walked in. I thought I'd enjoy spending the whole day there, but I was ready to bail after a couple hours (okay, maybe 3. . . or 4).

  • Overall shortness
  • Lack of playable handhelds
  • Simon...2??
  • The missing arcade classics
I'll add more highs & lows as I remember them.

As for the kid factor, if you're already planning an outing to the Museum, then you and your kids will probably enjoy the exhibit as a small part of your day. But if you build it up as the main reason you're going, they (and you) may be a little disappointed.

Bottom line, it's worth going, as long as you don't build it up to be an amazing thing.


  • The funny thing is, DisneyQuest down in Orlando (an indoor electronic interactive experience) had a floor with lots of old arcade games - and although they didn't have Computer Space, I actually found it a pretty educational experience as a game geek who just missed the arcade age due to birth. And everything was freeplay (once you paid the admission to get in, of course). Last time I was there was in 2002 though, so I'm not sure the games are still there.

    The computer gaming "museum" exhibit they set up at E3 every year is really low-key, but always a lot of fun (I had never been hands-on with an Intellivision before.) The machines are sometimes in various states of disrepair, but being hands-on like that is awesome.

    By Anonymous Cheryl, at 2:52 PM  

  • When DisneyQuest opened in Chicago, I wanted to go to the old school floor in the worst way, but that was in the midst of my "acting-like-a-grownup" phase, and I never made it before it closed. *sigh*

    At E3, I also ventured downstairs to the Classic Gaming Museum exhibit in Kentia Hall, and after getting my ass kicked at Robotron 2084, I talked to Keith Robinson of Intellivision for a while. Very cool to meet the guy who created something that gave me so many great memories.

    By Blogger Dan, at 9:10 PM  

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