The Bullock Museum recently debuted a new, interactive exhibit: Pong to Pokémon: The Evolution of Electronic Gaming which includes a huge dose of nostalgia for parents as well as plenty of hands-on gaming fun for kids. There’s no doubt that gaming is a cultural phenomenon, but did you realize that we’ve been playing some version of video games for about 50 years? It’s exciting to walk through the exhibit, learning about the history and technology of electronic gaming through the player’s experience noting key milestones in game technology, art, music, and design. You’ll find artifacts on display including some rare items from personal collections never shown previously to the public. And what’s most fun for the kids is that there are so many games to play — no quarters required!
Texas is actually home to the second-largest number of video game development companies in the U.S., preceded only by California. Texas-created games include Doom, Ultima, Wing Commander, The Sims, Half-Life, and Call of Duty. While the exhibition includes items from international and national lenders and collectors as well, it’s very cool to see the local artifacts and get a peek at how Texas is contributing to the fastest growing industry in the world.
We had the opportunity to tour the exhibit, located in the 2nd floor rotunda, with Jenny Peterson, Associate Curator of Exhibitions at the museum. Accompanied by our own kids, it was really exciting to walk through the displays pointing out all of the amazingly archaic-looking technologies and sharing stories with the kids about how things were back in “our day”. There was such joy in chatting about these memorable games from our childhood.
“It’s the longest exhibition we’ve done in the rotunda gallery, and the second longest exhibit ever in the museum’s history and a lot of that was to capture a diverse audience that we maybe wouldn’t have come to the museum,” Peterson said. “You’ll see kids showing their parents what they know about gaming and then the parents getting to show their kids the consoles they used to play on — so it’s a lot of nostalgia”, she noted.
We got to play games such as Oregon Trail, which takes parents like us back to our elementary school days, as well as arcade favorites like Ms. Pac-Man and Centipede. The kids loved playing classics like Super Mario Bros. and Madden 95. They literally tested out every single game on display, loving all of it! Check out the list of games you can look forward to playing when you visit:
Playable Classic Video Games in Pong to Pokémon Exhibit:
- Text-based adventures for early home computers
- Oregon Trail
- ZORK I
- Arcade console classics through support of Arcades4Home
- Ms. Pac-Man
- Home game consoles and handhelds from the 1970s and 1980s
- Super Mario Bros.
- Madden 95
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2
- Atari 2600, Nintendo NES, and Sega Genesis classic console re-releases
- Modern home games using advanced controllers, mobile devices, and home computers and offering personalized gameplay and outlets for user creativity
- Guitar Hero
- Wii Sports
- Angry Birds
We envision plenty of kids wanting to spend hours in this exhibit, so be sure to go when you have ample time to enjoy it (and wait turns). Pong to Pokémon will be on display through March 18, 2018. So you’ll have time to visit and go back again and again.
The Bullock Museum is open Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $9 for youth ages 4-17, $11 for seniors ages 65+, and $13 for adults. Parking is $8 in their underground parking garage located on 18th Street. Admission includes access to all special exhibitions and re-entry throughout the day. Take note that the best way to save on admission is by becoming a member. Click here to learn more about their membership program.
Admission is FREE the first Sunday of each month, with the next opportunity coming up on Sunday, August 6. The theme of this weekend’s H-E-B First Sunday is “Game On” with a focus on this new exhibit. In addition to First Sundays, the Bullock has lots of special programming, which you can keep track of here.
Let us know about your favorite part of the Pong to Pokémon exhibit! We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.