Photo by Daniel Love

EXHIBITION
Arcade Classics: Video Games from the Collection

May 21–October 30, 2016
Changing Exhibitions Gallery


Arcade Classics features more than 30 video arcade games released between 1971 and 1993, drawn from the Museum's collection. All of the games will be playable. Though the era of the video arcade game is long gone, arcade games were the grounds for innovation and experimentation that informed the genres, conventions, and play mechanics of the video games that we know today. 

The earliest game on view in Arcade Classics is Computer Space (1971), the first coin-operated video arcade game, created by Nolan Bushnell. While Computer Space was not a commercial success, Bushnell used the $500 he earned from it to found Atari. After seeing an early demonstration of a ball and paddle game for the soon-to-be-released Magnavox Odyssey (1972), he along with Allan Acorn developed Pong (1972), also on view, which became a massive commercial and cultural phenomenon, and spawned a new industry. The 38 games on view in the exhibition range in genre from early sports games (Atari Football, NBA Jam, Track & Field); fighting games (Karate Champ, Mortal Kombat); driving games (Pole Position, Out Run); puzzle and platformers (Donkey Kong, Frogger, Q*Bert); and a diverse array of “shooters,” many set in space (Asteroids,Galaxian, Defender, Space Invaders, Zaxxon), but also earthbound variations like Centipede.

A complete list of games on view:
Arkanoid (Taito. Released in the U.S. by Romstar, 1986)
Asteroids (Atari, 1979)
Atari Football (Atari, 1979)
Battlezone (Atari, 1980)
Berzerk (Stern, 1980)
Centipede (Atari, 1981)
Computer Space (Nutting, 1971)
Crazy Climber (Nihon Busan / Distributed in North America by Taito, 1980)
Defender (Williams, 1980)
Dig Dug (Atari, 1982)
Donkey Kong (Nintendo, 1981)
Dragon’s Lair (Cinematronics, 1983)
Frogger (Sega, 1981)
Galaxian (Namco / Manufactured in the U.S. by Bally/Midway, 1979)
Galaxy Force II (Sega, 1988)
Gauntlet (Atari, 1986)
Karate Champ (Data East, 1985)
Missile Command (Atari, 1979)
Mortal Kombat (Midway, 1992)
Ms. Pac-Man (Namco / Manufactured in the U.S. by Bally/Midway, 1982)
NARC (Williams, 1988)
NBA Jam (Midway, 1993)
Out Run (Sega, 1986)
Pole Position (Atari, 1983)
Pong (Atari, 1972)
Q*Bert (Gottlieb, 1982)
Qix (Taito, 1981)
Robotron 2084 (Williams, 1982)
Space Invaders (Taito, 1979)
Star Wars (Atari, 1983)
Super Breakout (Atari, 1978)
10 Yard Fight (Taito, 1984)
Tempest (Atari, 1981)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Midway, 1991)
Time Pilot (Centuri, 1984)
Track & Field (Konami/Centuri, 1983)
Tron (Bally/Midway, 1982)
Zaxxon (Sega / Released in the U.S. by Gremlin, 1982)

Tokens are required for play. Tokens are available for purchase in the gallery at token machines or in the Museum store (4 tokens for $1). Throughout the run of the exhibition, games may be retired and replaced with other games for conservation purposes.