UTVA Exhibit Creation for the Fine Arts Library and Beyond

This month the UTVA welcomed Rachel Simone Weil, a lecturer in the Art and Art History department at UT, to the archive in preparation for an exhibit at the Fine Arts Library. Rachel curated a selection of items from the David Rosen collection, and the FEMICom Museum, for her exhibit: “Hardware Not Responding.” , a visual history of Sega videogame consoles and electronic toys in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The exhibit includes items such as the SEGA Pico, Sega WonderMega, SEGA Pocket Arcades, and SEGA Pods.

The creation of exhibits involving archival materials from the UTVA provides individuals with the opportunity to engage with items they might not otherwise know exist in a form of public history.  The National Council on Public History  believes that “public history describes the many and diverse ways in which history is put to work in the world.” Exhibits bring together public history and curation to create a compelling narrative. The ability to weave in an element of storytelling bodes well for communicating with visitors and researchers. Connecting with more people is vital to the success and appreciation of archives. Due to the nature of the materials within the UTVA, exhibits represent one of the best ways to showcase the archive and its parts.

In an attempt to help create exhibits for the future, my capstone this Spring involved creating an exhibit for the UTVA.

The Experience Gained! exhibit for the UT Videogame Archive (UTVA) at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History seeks to portray a portion of the economic, societal, and creative growth of the video game industry spanning three decades by using selected materials from the archive:

  • Online and Internet Games Report published by Jupiter Communications in 1996.
    Online and Internet Games Report published by Jupiter Communications in 1996.

    Economic: The economic theme speaks to the individual inventors and programmers who developed games on their own and the transition into larger companies developing and publishing their own games.

  • Societal: From individual disks passed around and single player games to mass production and
    Wing Commander "Bible" containing information about the WC universe.
    Wing Commander “Bible” containing information about the WC universe.

    multi-player elements. The societal and community growth portion of the exhibit will focus on the development of the impact video games have had on individuals and communities as a whole.

  • Creative: Simple shapes, colors, and objectives evolved into fully immersive worlds with compelling stories. The infusion of the
    2nd Edition Players Handbook of AD&D
    2nd Edition Players Handbook of AD&D

    tabletop element and high fantasy worlds pushed videogames into uncharted territories. The paradigm established during the early days remains even today and reveals itself in the continued success of high fantasy games.

Exhibits utilizing archival materials from the UTVA offers up the opportunity to reach individuals who visit the archive and tell an interesting story with the materials. By allowing access to these materials the archive can continue to to preserve and make available to researchers records documenting videogame history from developer, critic, artist, publisher, gamer and designer perspectives.

Check back with us in a couple of weeks for more information regarding the hardware cataloging and preservation project currently in the works.