Professor Brad Bushman teaches a senior-level course on video games here at the University (crosslisted in Communication Studies & Psychology). Yesterday afternoon the class took a field trip to the Computer & Video Game Archive to play a bunch of games. The most popular games were Guitar Hero World Tour and MarioKart Wii; also popular were Mario Party, Halo 3, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Super Mario Bros.
One of our graduate students, Meredith Kahn, put together an exhibit of computer and video game items for the display cases in the basement of the Duderstadt Center. (The items are are mostly non-working or currently unused games; boxes/packaging; and books.)
Here are some pictures (sorry about the glare!) or drop by the basement of the library sometime in the next couple of weeks and take a look:
Oh the joys of running a usable archive! Some of the technical difficulties we've run into over the last couple of weeks:
* As mentioned earlier, our Atari Flashback 2 just stopped working. There's a complete lack of status indicators on the unit, so no telling what the problem is... I'll order a replacement and hope it lasts longer than a few weeks. (At least we get a couple of usable Atari joysticks out of the deal!)
* While testing out donated games, the refurbished NES we bought off eBay stopped loading games, instead giving us a yellow screen of doom with everything. From what I've been able to gather this means that the pins are probably damaged--likely by one of the games we were testing--so I'll look into replacing that component. We still have an older (and more finicky) NES that was donated. I'm also thinking of getting a Famiclone to have around.
* Grand Theft Auto IV won't load up at all in our new Xbox 360 Pro, but loads and plays just fine in out Xbox 360 Elite. Anyone ever encounter this?
* Our new copy of NCAA Football 09 for Xbox 360 suddenly developed a nice carved ring on the surface of the disk, and thus won't load or play. Nobody recalls this happening, but it must have been one of the units. We haven't had any further problems with games getting carved up, so I'm not worrying for the time being...
The first casualty of our video game archive was our Atari Flashback 2. It just up and stopped working one day a couple of weeks ago. I plan to purchase a replacement, but first I figured I'd put my long-neglected electrical engineering degree to use to see if I could find something obviously wrong (like perhaps a loose wire connection). I didn't find anything, but did snap some photos of the insides:
Despite our having done hardly any publicity, the student newspaper, The Michigan Daily, found out about the video game archive and sent a reporter to do a story: "Library opens video game archive."
Only one notable error that I noticed: I was quoted as saying that we could buy about a dozen new games per month, if we don't buy any equipment. That's not right; the annual budget includes about a dozen new games per month, plus some older games, plus new and replacement equipment. Less major, although we were budgeted a certain amount of start-up funds, we haven't yet spent all of it.
Assuming that nothing surprising happens (knock on wood...) I hope that we'll be able to open the Computer & Video Game Archive by the end of September. It will be a soft open, for a few hours on weekday afternoons as we get used to things and figure out how to run the place. We'll no doubt expand hours as we go along, and plan on having a Grand Opening Extravataganza sometime in mid-November.