Although textbooks are useful, antique gaming equipment provide students with a key source to develop their understanding of gaming.
This is why the Herman B Wells Library will soon be adding a video game archive to its Media Services.
With the donation of professor of cinema and media studies Raiford Guins’ gaming artifacts, students will have the opportunity to check out video game magazines and video games, which they can play on various consoles in the library’s lower tower.
“Having that experience enriches their understanding of the past,” Guins said. “It helps them to appreciate the different forms gaming has taken over four decades of consumer gameplay.”
This opportunity will come as part of Guins’ initiative to collect the items and create an archive that will enhance the learning and teaching of game design studies. Students will have direct access to primary sources that can be used to understand how gaming has changed over time.
More than 400 video games will be available for students with an IU student ID to check out and play on the consoles before the end of the semester.
Because the archive will have games students can play, it will give them the opportunity to experience games they didn’t grow up with and are no longer available on the mainstream market. These game consoles will provide first-hand experience with the games, while they are still functioning, he said.
“It’s not just me lecturing nonstop at them, but a chance where they can actually experience what we’re talking about,” he said.
Guins said students are already able to access many of the titles associated with well-known consoles through other media, such as their phone or computer, but the experience is not the same.
Guins said he believes the hardware games are played with is an important part of the video game playing experience. With the collection of these gaming systems, Guins will be able to give his students the opportunity to hold the game systems they discuss in their classes.
He said most undergrad students are used to playing games on an Xbox or a PlayStation that have the common dual analog controllers, not a single analog controller, or a joystick.
“You can understand the physical engagement of the games,” he said. “You can see what games from the ‘70s, the ‘80s, the ‘90s actually looked like when played through a console. You can come into physical contact with controllers you’ve never touched before.”
Guins said he is hopeful that the archive of more than 8,000 gaming magazines, which is currently in holding at the Ruth Lilly Auxiliary Library Facility, will be ready for students to use this fall.
The magazines will also help undergraduates get used to doing archival research, which they don’t normally practice, aside from their time spent on Wikipedia, Guins said.
Guins, who is a historian, said he hopes this archive will cultivate a culture that encourages undergraduates who are interested in historical research to gain the experience necessary to take on graduate level research.
“We’re not just playing old games,” Guins said. “We’re having to travel to archives to retrieve materials from which to write an argument about the past.”
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