University of Michigan Computer and Video Game Archive offers old-school gaming experience
To see them playing "Battle Toads" on an old-school Nintendo, you'd never suspect Justin Morris and Ares Pangoulias had a final exam in civil engineering coming up in two hours.
The two juniors, civil engineering majors at the University of Michigan, found the Nintendo game a good way to blow off steam before final exams. Even though the students had never visited the U-M Computer and Video Game Archive, they thought finals week was as good a time as any to start.
James Dickson | AnnArbor.com
The archive was founded in fall 2008 after David Carter, an engineering librarian at U-M, petitioned the U-M Library system that video games were a novel new frontier.
In just under two years, an archive that started with 400 games has grown to 1,400, across more than 20 gaming systems from the Playstation 3 to Sega Genesis to the Atari 2600.
The archive has now moved to its summer schedule. Hours are truncated through the fall to account for lower demand as students leave campus. Until students arrive for Welcome Week, the archive will be only open Monday to Friday from noon to 7 p.m.
Patrons at the archive are allowed to play uninterrupted for at least an hour. If others want to use the station after that time, they're allowed to.
Peter Fullen, a freshman from Saline, found out about the archive while doing a search of the U-M Library website. His interest was piqued immediately, and he's been returning once or twice a week ever since.
One of the honor student's goals before leaving campus is to beat "Dante's Inferno" for the Xbox 360.
During the year, students and faculty even use the archive for research purposes. One student came in to research gender equity issues in video games over the years. And from time to time, gaming professors bring in classes to learn what works and what doesn't.
On the last day of class, the archive hosted a Rock Band exhibition. With a makeshift stage, big screens, and a live video feed, wannabe student rockers could feel like they were actually performing live.
"We'll be having another one in the fall," Carter said. "I hope people take advantage."
Carter had no numbers on how many people patronize the library each year. The archive, on the second floor of the Duderstadt Center on North Campus, is open to the public - not just U-M students or Ann Arbor residents.
James David Dickson can be reached at JamesDickson@AnnArbor.com.