THE FLASH

Comikaze’s Hidden Tribute to Gaming

At Comikaze 2014, a massive tribute to gaming culture exists that deserves your help.

VGHMuseum.org

Lost Civilization

Stan Lee’s Comikaze is, like most big conventions, freaking massive. The show floor takes up nearly the entirety of its room at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and yields nerdy delights as far as the eye can see. Not to mention the myriad of panels, announcements, and contests to see. But tucked away in the show floor’s northwest corner, something incredible exists: the Videogame History Museum. Unlike the flashy booths occupied by brands like Marvel and Hot Topic, the museum is a humble collection of tables with a simple sign in the middle describing what the area is and containing a humble donation box. It contains more gaming history than you even know existed, and it needs your help.

While not exactly impressive for a convention to import a few arcade cabinets for the weekend, the Videogame History Museum is much more than that. Started by three friends in the ‘90s, the museum actually travels between different conventions, and puts on its own show every year in Las Vegas: the Classic Gaming Expo. However, unlike most museums or exhibits, you can play every single game on display. There is the typical cluster of arcade games (all joyously set to free play), but surrounding that are several long tables filled with retro consoles. And not just the typical Nintendo lineup either. This area boasts nearly every console made before the new millenium, with everything from nostalgic mainstays like the Sega Genesis to more obscure boxes like the Turbografx-16. They even have cult hits like the NeoGeo and Vectrex. And not only are all the consoles out, but each has a few key titles next to it, ready to be played. You can relive the original Super Mario Bros. that took the world by storm in 1985. You can play Metal Slug on a genuine NeoGeo cabinet. You can even play E.T. on the Atari 2600, the game that nearly crashed the entire gaming industry. Rather than viewing these cultural touchstones from a distance, the Videogame Museum lets you actually experience gaming history for yourself. This is the type of place that makes gaming enthusiasts go wild. Even the arcade selection shows a reverence to gaming history, mixing mainstays like Street Fighter II in with influential and even obscure cabinets like Space Invaders and Rygar.

VGHMA1

But where things get really interesting is the Museum’s dedication not only to preserving and celebrating the games themselves, but to the culture around gaming in general. Giant tables at the front of the area are stacked with display cases featuring all manner of gaming memorabilia: Buttons, advertisements, promotional items, and even board games are there. What might otherwise be considered random junk instead becomes a window into a lost era when there was an arcade on every block, Mario had a cartoon on TV, and people wore silk jackets with the Activision logo… because 1980s. Even weird marketing gimmicks like the Nintendo Comics System got their due. The amount of items and care the museum staff have put into preserving the culture is staggering.

The traveling show generally only appears at gaming conventions such as E3 and GDC, and has sadly been without a home since it began. Most of its collection resides in storage across the country when not in use, meaning fans have to be an industry insider or make the pilgrimage to a convention to see it, partially. The collection is so vast that it has to be broken into parts. But recently, the museum announced an ambitious plan to build a permanent structure in Frisco, a suburb of Dallas, Texas. This building will house the entire collection, be open year round, and eventually host the Classic Gaming Expo. However, as a non-profit, the museum relies on donations to keep running, and must raise a hefty sum to afford their new building.

Much like cinema and books, video games are an incredible art form and deserve to have their history and impact on culture preserved. So if you can spare it, send a few coins their way. They accept donations on their official website. And next time you walk the halls of your favorite convention, check out that forlorn corner of the show floor — you may just find a window into history.

If you attended Comikaze 2014, what did you think of the show? What are you thoughts on the Videogame History Museum? Preserve your comments forever in history below.

About Max Mielecki (157 Articles)
Max Mielecki is a TV writer at YouNerded and does comedy for the interwebs. He knows Han shot first. For further ramblings follow him on Twitter @Maxmielecki.

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