The National Videogame Museum – Gaming Historian
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The National Videogame Museum – Gaming Historian

September 18, 2019

♪♪ 28 miles north of Dallas, Texas
lies the city of Frisco, home of the newly-opened
National Videogame Museum at the Frisco Discovery Center. Founded by friends John Hardie,
Sean Kelly and Joe Santulli, the museum houses 10,000 square feet
of exhibits, rare items, displays, and even a full-blown arcade. As you walk in, you are greeted by
a giant, playable Pong machine. And along the way, there are
plenty of games to try for yourself. The museum is set up into 17 different stages, each one highlighting an
important element of video games. Some stages even feature set pieces. One of the more intriguing ones is in the Video Game Crash of 1983 area. This little store display,
so they kind of recreated… what an independent game
store would have looked like… as the video game market was crashing. It’s kinda like a somber moment,
I guess, when you look at it. It’s sad. Of course, there’s also a more lighthearted one, such as an average boy’s room in the 1980s, complete with a small CRT television, Duck Hunt and… a fake Playboy under the bed. After touring the museum, I met up with Joe Santulli, one of the founders, and asked him how this all came to be. JOE: I was a packrat when I was a kid. It’s always really important
for me to start that way because people are like,
“how did you let this happen to yourself?” I was a packrat when I was a kid.
I was collecting baseball cards, comic books… coins, stamps… board games, right? But once video games came
out on cartridges, like the 2600, all of a sudden I had something to collect… that was fun. So it wasn’t comic books and baseball cards
that you put in albums and you leave them aside. This was something I could interact with
every day and I was building my own library. I started… in 1991 an organization called Digital Press. And Digital Press was formed… to find other people like me
and my friend Kevin and… build lists because there was
no Internet in 1991–not for us. And we wanted to know what didn’t we have… as we’re collecting. So Digital Press reached out
to a lot of like-minded people. And we started to have this audience of… collectors. And then we started to
do books about collecting. And then we started to… um… build these complete lists with
rarity guides and such. So… That phenomenon sort of brought my partners
John Hardie and Sean Kelly into the fold. Those guys were subscribers of mine. And we would write to each other, and we’d
kind of become this little network of people. And we decided in 1999 to try doing this show called Classic Gaming Expo in Las Vegas where… we would bring our collections
for the first time and make a little… museum… on card tables and little standees, right? It actually turned out to be a really cool thing. People were like, “Well, this is great!” “It’s only once a year, but it would be
nice if we could see this more often.” So we did that show for a
bunch of years, then we did– we were doing industry events.
E3 had invited us to do 2003… as an homage to the 10-year anniversary of E3, so we brought our vintage collection.
Now we’re a traveling museum. All of a sudden, we’re doing… PAX and Game Developer Conference and… Comikaze and anybody else
that wanted to have an exhibit… of a collection. NORM: While developing and
growing the traveling museum, Santulli worked full-time in
the pharmaceutical industry. The pay was good, but it was boring. He wanted to turn his passion
of video games into a career. So, he decided to quit his full-time job and open a video game store in Clifton, New Jersey. JOE: I’ll never forget those people
when I told them what I was doing. They’re like… *pfft* “What?!” “You’re gonna start your own video game store?” It sounds like a crazy thing for a
40-year-old to do after all this time, but… I didn’t really care, and I opened
that store called Digital Press. I called it Digital Press because I figured, well,
there’s a little bit of name recognition here. Some people might know what it is, but… it was just sort of a continuation of a product. NORM: Since opening in 2005, Digital Press has become one of the most
well-known stores in the gaming community, holding monthly meet-ups known as NAVA, where collectors can hang out, play games, and trade collection pieces. JOE: I always tell the
employees there at their little… their orientation is you have
to think of this place as it’s… the Disneyland of game stores, like… We wanted to always be really clean,
you want your customers to all walk out happy. And I think we do a pretty good job with that. NORM: With Santulli concentrating
full-time on video games and collecting, the museum continued to tour conventions and trade shows throughout the country. But soon, the three friends concluded they needed a permanent home for their traveling exhibit. JOE: We did a Kickstarter in 2011… where the goal was… get our stuff… into every possible… industry event that we could find… and pitch the idea of having a place, permanent. We were considering anywhere for a while. Because we had traveled so much, we had collections all over the country. And we could have gone
really, literally, anywhere. Anywhere that had a good space for us. Lo and behold, we’re at a show that we never
would have gone to if it wasn’t for Kickstarter… called DICE. It’s also in Las Vegas. It’s an executive-level industry event. And we were set up in a very
little room, much like this one… with our typical arcade games, a couple of… you know… important pieces for a museum… and we have this signature ’80s living room, which we would do at industry events everywhere. So that ’80s living room was the
place where we met Randy Pitchford because IGN was bringing
people in there to do interviews. This was just a cool backdrop for them. Randy, after his interviews,
looking around, he’s like… “What is this? You guys building a museum? Like, I wanna build a museum.
I have a little museum in my office. I’m planning–I’m moving to Frisco. I think maybe I have the right spot for you.” And that kinda got the ball rolling here in Frisco. So we ended up, um… partnering with him, partnering with the city. This place is great. It’s centrally located. We’re in a nice facility.
The community digs what we’re doing. NORM: Meeting the mayor of Frisco only
confirmed that they had found the perfect home. JOE: Yeah, Mayor Maso… He kind of astounded me.
You expect the mayor to come in, it’s like, “Uh! Here we go again.
I gotta take the guy through the thing.” And he’s just gonna say,
“Oh, this is a great shot.” Instead the guy gravitates towards
this row of computers that we have… and he’s asking these questions, like, “Tell me you guys have and ACORN computer system because that’s what I was
running when I was in college. And we’d run… versions of Colossal Caves.” And we’re like… really?! This is the mayor of this city? Awesome, right? Perfect guy, perfect fit for us. It’s our collections. It’s the three of
us and our collections. There’s… There’s a few donated pieces but when I say that, it’s not–now that we’re open,
we’ll see donations come in. But… we had accepted to some degree some
donations over the years as a traveling museum. And if you look around,
you’ll see a lot of dev stuff, right? And prototype cartridges,
so things that you wouldn’t have gotten… through retail channels. A lot of that stuff was donated
over the years because… running Classic Gaming Expo and
doing all those industry events, we were… in constant contact and hunting down… these game developers over
the years, and telling them, “Look, this stuff is important
whether you think it is or not.” I think we have a place for it.
There’s a place in history for… all of that development stuff,
which I think you can see here. You know, if you go over to that third-party section, you can see David Crane’s Game Boy system, development system, that he used to design… Rescue of Princess Blobette. That’s exactly what happened with all
of that equipment that’s sitting there. So, what we ended up doing with
10,000 square feet is presenting you with… seventeen stories. Seventeen things that we want you to… study, have fun with, interact with, and learn something about,
so that when you leave, you can almost say, Here are the 17 things that I learned
today about how sound is important, why online gaming is important, how game developers have given me… the option to create games within their games. You know, what does it take to get
involved in the gaming business by looking at Randy Pitchford’s
office as it looked in Plano? NORM: While the museum is new
and finally open to the public, Joe admits that this is only
the beginning of their vision. Eventually, they would love
to add an archive center, theater room and a game library where people could come in
and play over 12,000 game titles from every system imaginable. JOE: That’s the 1.0 version that you see here. We still have all of those things waiting for a 2.0. So if things go well here, we do plan on expanding even further and being able to someday have
that library and archival facility. So, what we really wanted is a dedicated, 100%… It’s video gaming, it’s computer gaming, it’s handhelds, it’s arcade cabinets, it’s… We want to make sure that all of that… every piece of that culture was
all contained within one building. Um… and I think we’ve done that. And I know that we’re the first place
that’s dedicated to simply video games. – Right. ♪♪ NORM: Pretty incredible. It’s obvious they put a lot of time
and money into this place. This isn’t like some little traveling
exhibit you see at those conventions. This is like an actual museum. They thought out the different
stages, the walking layout. I mean, it’s an actual legit
museum. It’s really good. Really takes you through
the evolution of video games. Funding for Gaming Historian is
provided in part by supporters on Patreon. Thank you. ♪♪

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  1. Around the same time as this one, a similar game museum opened in Tampere, Finland too! I really recommend that one if you're in the area, it has playable exhibits and game history, typical kids' bedrooms and old living rooms, and also a complete arcade. It has a bit more focus on Finnish game culture. It's a really nice place, I've gone there twice.

  2. I got engaged there in the living room setup they show! What wonderful memories. <3 Thank you for making this video Gaming Historian!

  3. Holy shit, it just clicked that I MET THIS MAN AT DIGITAL PRESS. I live near Clifton and I went there to shop for some retro games. I had no idea how big a deal Digital Press really is!

  4. Do you know if they're willing to partner with a business willing to recreate a modern arcade using modern consoles such as PS3 and more current. This looks like something I'd be interested in being a part of.

  5. It makes me very happy to see this and I hope they continue to get donations. So much gaming history has been lost because nobody wants to fund it or care at all and that is really sad. Years down the road people will look back and wonder why we didn't do better.

  6. Oh come on, we've had something like this for YEARS in Rochester, New York. It's called eGameRevolution and it's at the Strong Museum.

  7. Took a road trip there for my Bday and was not disappointed! Was kinda bummed that when we came there was no tour but maybe we got there late but other then that Awsome!! 80's room was awsome the crate of vinyls the members only jacket lol too good!! Norm you should totally go to San Antonio to this one videogame/record store.. the owner is one of Atari first vendors and had alot to say about meeting Nolan Bushnell and having originals Atari systems definitely somthing to look into "Propaganda Palace" ??

  8. One of the best shows on YouTube about all things gaming I grew up during the 80’s and this museum is awesome I am going to have to visit someday thank you for doing a show about it.

  9. Just saw this, couldn't Like it more. This is truly amazing, 100% on my bucket list. So amazing

  10. just visited this weekend and got kicked out at the end because i had a dog with my :/ didnt get to play the arcade feels bad man

  11. This is excellent! Thanks for making this video! I so badly want to go to The National Videogame Museum now!

  12. If they want to build a game library, you should get in touch with the Lazy Game Review Youtube channel. His boxed PC game selection is vast.

  13. I've subbed to this channel because :

    A) all the videos I've seen have some truly professional production values.

    B) they're all worth repeat viewing.

    C) I'm a huge gaming fan & loved the 80s to 90s period.

    D) The background underscores are well done and have been carefully inserted into the edit . Having done music for t.v & film for years (I'm grateful & blessed I've had the opportunities), it's a real tonic to see & hear quality production all the way through.

    This is a great episode, and I'll mark this place on my bucket list .

    And if you need some melodic underscores for the episodes , reach out.



  14. Well, I am working in waxahachie Texas. I am on my way.. 75 freeway going to Plano eat Japanese food and on to Frisco. 12 pm opens today. I will follow up.

  15. There's also a video game museum in Berlin very similar to this. Not as big, but the setup is pretty much the same. An Arcade room, a "typical boy's room" from the 80's and many different games to try out. Even the original Zork!

  16. Will you ever do a video on the history of video games on the other side of the Iron Curtain? Not just Tetris, but all video games developed in the USSR and other communist block countries?

  17. I work accounting remotely for offices near DFW, so whenever the video says "Dallas", "Frisco" or "Plano" I look up and wonder if one of my offices is in trouble again. Most disconcerting. 😛

  18. I'm really thinking in quiting my job if only I could work in that museum, video games are one of the most important part of my life and I wish I could dedicate the rest of my life to show people the important of this beautiful part of history

  19. Early collectors are the reason we have such a wealth of information nowadays because the actual producers video game could never be arsed to maintain their own archives in any comprehensive way.

  20. I went there 2 weeks ago. My favorite exhibit was the "Super Mario Bros." movie collection. I got the opportunity to play a Sega Master System (Sega Mark III), TurboGrafx-16 (PC Engine), and Atari 7800 all for the first time. A great time for any video game enthusiast.

    I would've looked for the "fake Playboy" had I known about it.

  21. I love this place!!!! Every year, on my birthday, I take my wife and kids here and travel back in time. The best thing is watching my kids get the same enjoyment that I had at their age.

  22. Stumbled across this at the most opportune time possible. I'm heading down there next week for a work event. I'll have to sneak off to spend some time there. Thanks!

  23. Does the museum mention how many shit games that are just trying to cash in there are. Even when supposedly licensed by for eg Nintendo

  24. There is a pinball festival in Frisco near there every year, usually in March. They usually give out free rides to and from and a 50% discount to the museum. The festival is so good every year that I have yet to check out the museum. Maybe next year.

  25. I would love to see another one of these in New Jersey because it could be a tribute to the original digital press store and its pretty close by to places like New York so it could bring in a lot of people.

  26. How does this compare with the Strong Museum in Rochester, NY? Anyone been to both? They have a pretty good collection of stuff there and lots of games you can play as well.

  27. For me, music is one of the most important parts of a videogame, so I was really happy when I saw 08:31 I hope this museum has a DDR machine on display! When i think ARCADE that's the first cabinet that comes to my mind

  28. I remember when this video first debuted. Me and my girlfriend were about to visit her uncle in Allen, TX. We watched this video the night before we drove out there and we then planned to take a detour to stop by. Now every time we visit her uncle, we go and take a tour. Thank you for letting us know about this amazing museum!

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