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This Museum Lets You Play 23 Classic Video Games from the 80s

An interactive exhibit at the Museum of Moving Image recreates the once grand youth entertainment complex.
Photo: Thanassi Karageorgiou. All images courtesy the Museum of the Moving Image

At the height of the video arcade boom in the 80s, more than 10,000 individual arcade centers could be found in the US. These hubs of youth entertainment and favorite funnel for preteen pocket money generated nearly $8 billion in quarters alone in 1982. The sensation and allure of the relatively obsolescent video arcade still lives on today inside an exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York.


Preserving each game in its first edition, the exhibit titled Video Arcade , gathers 23 vintage game machines for the public to play. Pop culture touchstones like Frogger and Pac-Man are open for visitors to use alongside the more obscure but beloved additions, Galaxy Force II and Q*Bert. Visitors to the exhibit should come with a pocket of quarters for their gaming. The museum's gallery has conveniently set up token machines throughout the gallery space, so that gamers can enjoy the exhibit for as long as their store of $0.25 will allow.

Donkey Kong / Frogger. Photo: Patrick Alvarado

In a statement to Creators, the museum team shares how its conservator and independent game collector Jeff Anderson, mans the process of each console's restoration: "This process requires the replacement or repair of broken parts, and the replacements of the original monitor chassis, which even if currently functioning, are unstable and will inevitably fail because of their age."

The Museum of Moving Image, which highlights film, television, and digital media history, has been actively collecting video arcade games since the 80s, partly to create its first video arcade exhibit Hot Circuits in 1989. To this day, the museum's collection includes nearly 400 artifacts, trailing the initial success of the video gaming industry in the 70s to its current digitally-advanced reincarnation of today's video games.

Out Run. Photo: Thanassi Karageorgiou

Battlezone (1980). Photo: Daniel Love

Battlezone (1980). Photo: Thanassi Karageorgiou

The Museum of the Moving Image's exhibit Video Arcade will remain open to visitors until January 15, 2018. Find more information about the exhibit, here.


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