A Visit To The Digital Game Museum

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(Updated 7/9/2014 as the Atari party was sponsored by a separate group)

So my local video game group had an outing to the Digital Game Museum. I’m going to write about it because it’s relevant. I wish I had a better lead in to something so important, so let’s talk about why it’s important . . .

Now when you think about it there should be freaking giant museums of video games. There’re a huge industry. They’ve been influential in culture and technology. They’re omnipresent. They helped inspire some really bad films. The industry is re-inventing itself.

But there’s surprisingly little in the way of game museums that I could find. There’s the travelling Video Game History Museum. I hear of art shows of game art. There’s some gaming at the Computer History Museum, but not much – and this is Silicon Valley.

Locally there’s the MADE in Oakland and down in the Valley proper, there’s the Digital Game Museum. You’d think there’d be more, and I can probably find it, but still the fact it’s so hard to find game museums is a bit sad.

And when I visited the Digital Game Museum, it was amazing.  Visiting was an experience because it’s a testimony to love, to geekdom, and to a need to do more to preserve our video game history.


So when my group rolled up to the museum, we found it was small. Really small. Mostly it’s an archive with a few exhibits that rotate.

If that shocks you it shocked a lot of people as well. This is video gaming after all, and it’s Silicon Valley (as in really smack in the middle of it). Hell, the Computer History Museum was a few miles away.

It, and my later research, made me realize more people needed to pay attention to video games as history. We really take it for granted.  As far as I’m concerned this thing should be huge.


We started talking to the docent, also a founder, who’s video-game loving son had been her inspiration. This was a huge part of her life, and she’d poured a lot into it – including her son’s video game collection.  They apparently kept quite a bit – and she was a trained museum professional, so it worked perfectly.

She held us in rapt attention for over an hour.

It was amazing. This comparatively tiny place with a few exhibits seemed to grow huge as we heard stories and looked at displays, and took in tales of museum curation. Boxes of artifacts were opened just for us, odd game machines were shown off (including a Taiko Drum game), and little-known facts revealed.

Bustling around us were the staff, doing their job, diligently recording history. All while we pushed the place to maximum capacity.

It was a reminder size isn’t a huge measure of . .. well huge.

. . . WHO DO A LOT OF EVENTS . . .

So what do you do when you don’t have a lot of space? You hold events outside of it.

Turns out the DGM does events (they helped with an Atari Party we attended). They crack out the exhibits, get people to bring out their machines, and go to town. They call up speakers who’ve seen and made history. They make the museum mobile and a happening.

We later attended the Atari Party, and saw things I forgot existed. We heard about the invention of the Atari Trackball and the origin of the company (by the way, nothing’s changed in Silicon Valley in 40 years). It was all held at a library, and was the best museum exhibit held by a museum not at a museum I’d seen.

That’s how other small museums and displays and collections reach people. They get involved.


Si I saw this display of impressive geekery. And it was really humbling and amazing. THis is the stuff we talk about when we talk about hte passion of geek culture, the knowledge, the amazingness.

A small building of people who were retired or doing this recreationally working miracles and archiving our pasts. A tiny team making wonders happen at a library where kinds who never knew a world where Atari wasn’t an afterthought experienced it anew.

So I want to encourage you to get involved:

  • If you live in Silicon Valley, go donate time! Come on over. We might see you there.
  • Help them sponsor an event at your company or con or club.
  • If you can donate games or other artifacts, donate them. I was amazed at what they didn’t have, and am donating a large collection of old games.
  • You can adopt a game. Pay the annual fee to back storage of the game and help the museum.
  • You can send money. Hey, go for it.
  • Promote them like, I dunno, on a website.
  • Help promote them other ways.

This is a worthy cause.

In fact, I’ve noted other game museums above. If you’re a gamer, get involved like the above. Hey you don’t have to get involved in just one.


This was a massive display of Applied Geekery. This is the kind of things we geeks do.

So your next assignment, my fellow geeks? I challenge you to look for one geeky museum, newsletter repository, or something and make a contribution. Go on. Just one, be it cash or a donation or promotion.

It might become a habit.

Oh and if you’re not sure who to support, well you just got one of my votes . . .

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.