A Fun Visit To the National Videogame Museum in Frisco

National Videogame MuseumMarioAs part of a fun weekend filled with kids activities, I drug the grand kids to the National Videogame Museum in Frisco. Our two grand kids, and specifically the grandson (7 years old) love video games but they are all those sophisticated superb 3 D graphics shoot-um-up or other games with realistic characters and the eighth generation of consoles including Nintendo's Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, Microsoft's Xbox One, and Sony's PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.plus all of the iPad and iPhone game- none of which I'm any good at.

However, I did consider myself a pinball and Atari wizard from the early 1980's - I loved and mastered Pong, PacMan, Space Invaders, DigDug, Centipede, Asteroids, Donkey Kong and most of the early pinball and arcade games - you older folks will know what I'm talking about! So I figured I'd show the young whippersnappers how to play real videogames and learn a little about the history of the game. So I was very excited but the grand kids seemed to "ho-hum" about it.

Atari's PongAnd then we walked in the front door and spotted a huge Atari pong game - in fact it's the world's largest pong console and screen at over 15 feet!! I whipped the grand kids in several games of pong and had to finally drag them away to see the rest of the museum and let someone else play Pong before the line of people waiting attacked us!.

The grand kids didn't want to hear about the history, so I'll tell you. The original Atari was founded in 1972 in Sunnyvale, California where we were living at the time. I'm proud to say I actually sold some software services to Nolan Bushnell Atari which helped he and his team develop some of the first arcade games and video game consoles and start the videogaming revolution. . And I was the proud owner of one of the first Atari 2600s which helped define the electronic entertainment industry from the 1970s to the mid-1980s. Like you, before the end of my story the grand kids were yawning!

The National Videogame Museum is 10,000 square feet of videogames, consoles, history, and interesting facts about the industry. Part of what makes the National Videogame Museum interesting is that it leads you through 18 different stages depicting important eras of the videogame history. For example:

  • #1 is the Beginning with Atari console displays and the huge pong game
  • #4 is Control and shows lots of the various controllers through the years
  • #5 is Portables - a display of the smaller hand held video games
  • #10 is Create where games start to be used to teach and foster creative skills from drawing to spelling

The BeginningControllers from lots of videogamesCreate where  games started to be used for education and creative endeavors

Some of the other things we found interesting in the museum included: "The Crash" which was represented by a life-size replica of a 1983 game store in the final stages of closing for good thanks to the videogame crash and a $50 game that is marked down to $5, and a sign reads “Everything Must Go;.” an entire wall lined with videogames of all ages that you can play for free; the "Sanctuary" is a 1980s-themed bedroom—complete with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off posters, Pac-Man bed sheets, and a chance to play Duck Hunt on a 19-inch Zenith television - and a living room filled with games for the mom's and dads, all of which brought back some fond memories for myself, my wife and our daughter; and a wall with a timeline of over 50 game consoles where you can use an Atari type controller to get to each one and learn more about it's history. Besides Pong, we spent the most time in the arcade which is home to over 40 arcade games you can play that range from Centipede from 1980 to the 1993’s controversial Mortal Kombat 2. It didn't take us long to spend the 4 free coins we got with our ticket and head back to the front desk for some more.

the wall of free games1980's bedroomarcade at national videogame museum

Here are just of few of the interesting facts about videogames that we learned:

  • the videogame industry is larger than the music and movie industries combined!
  • the average age of a videogamer is 34 and about 40% are female!
  • Grand Theft Auto V generated $1 billion in sales within 3 days of it's release!
  • this is the only museum dedicated to the history of videogames!

The National Videogame Museum also offers several special events like special summer camps and they can host birthday as well other other types of private parties. If you're a gamer or ever were, you'll love the National Videogame Museum. Go check it out! Return to our Weekend of Kids Activities in Frisco.

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