History of Video Games Playable Archive 

Core to the Center’s mission is the creation of a “playable” archive of gaming technology and software. The archive will house both vintage video game systems and software donated to the Center by the public or bought through the Center’s funds. There are also plans to work with students to build retro emulation machines and arcade cabinets that will run emulation software for older coin-operated video games and console systems.

A playable experience such as this offers researchers and students the opportunity to write about games from a player’s perspective. Experiencing the source material helps create more accurate histories of these games and their meaning within a specific cultural context.  Having a playable archive of games also means exposing researchers and students to the evolution of game mechanics in video games. Offering them a glimpse at how mechanics can influence narrative (the history told in these games) and how narrative can influence the creation of new gaming mechanics.

The critical play center will offer an opportunity to create, stream or post critical “let’s play” videos, bringing critical analysis of video games to a broad audience. 

Donations to the Center's Playable Archive are gladly accepted. We're always looking for vintage games, software, consoles, video game cabinets and any other video game collectibles you may want to give us. To donate to the archive please contact the directors by email sean.smith@csulb.edu and jeffery.lawler@csulb.edu.



Items Currently in the Archives


Come engage in Critical Play

The Center's Archive is located in the History Department at California State University, Long Beach.