So try to follow along with my reasoning on this one. I was thinking about video games the other day, and about how many people see them as a valid form of artistic expression, just like prose, poetry, sculpture, or film. They're not just a game, they are a legitimate cultural phenomenon.
"That's true," I told myself (yes, I do argue with myself. I have a very solitary job, and sometimes I'm my own best company.) "But that makes it sadder that there's no real archival tradition in video games the way there is in other forms of art. People work to preserve old books, old sculptures, and old movies, but because video games are reliant on hardware as well as software, and because hardware progresses so rapidly, there's no real way for a new generation to rediscover old classics."
I pointed out to myself that this wasn't entirely true, because many video games are re-released for new systems and new formats. "Yes," I thought, "but that's reliant on the goodwill and commercial interests of the video game developers. Sure, they might reissue some 'classic' games, maybe even remaster and remake them. But still, the vast majority of classic games will fall through the cracks. You can't play a Super Nintendo game on a Wii, is what it boils down to. Without access to the older systems, the older games and the cultural traditions behind them can really only be passed down from gamer to gamer orally. There's no museum to--"
And then I pictured it in my head. A museum devoted entirely to video games. Starting with the first primitive Pong machines, developing through the years to the branching of genres into FPS, platformers, RPGs, MMOs, puzzle games...and the best part is, it could be made interactive so easily! You wouldn't just see an exhibit on Tetris, you'd be able to sit down and play a game! You wouldn't just see pictures of 'Resident Evil', you'd be able to see the classic cut-scenes playing out right in front of you, and understand exactly why older gamers crack up at the phrase, "the master of unlocking"! The cultural phenomenon that is video games might finally get the respect it deserves!
It'd have to involve corporate sponsorship, of course. Not only is it expensive to build and maintain the kind of museum I'm talking about, but the major video game companies have archival material that the museum would pretty much have to have, by necessity. But I think that any sane company would jump at the chance to help sponsor a museum that would promote their medium to this degree--wouldn't Nintendo love to help out with an "Evolution of Mario" exhibit, for example? Heck, even the gift shop would have synergy. Tour the museum, check out the classic games, then buy reissued editions to take home with you!
It's a huge, daunting task to even consider, and I'll admit I don't know the first thing about how you start a museum. But I think it's an idea with real commercial potential, a solid concept with an eager fanbase willing to support it, and a cool idea for a tourist destination. Anyone out there who does know how to start a museum agree with me?