Video Game Museums Abound, and Falter

The BBC’s coverage of the Museum *of Soviet* Arcade Machines has been attracting considerable attention recently.

The Museum *of Soviet* Arcade Machines
The Museum *of Soviet* Arcade Machines

The Museum *of Soviet* Arcade Machines joins a number of other video game museums (most of which seem to be struggling to survive), including:

These museums often adopt grand rhetoric about education and enjoyment. “A key goal of the IAM is to establish a definitive collection of mechanical amusement devices, coin-operated machines and videogames for the enjoyment and education of society as a whole.” The American Classic Arcade Museum promises to keep alive the history of coin-operated arcade games “through educational displays, cut-away models of games, vintage publications, antique catalogs and guest lectures given by prominent figures in arcade history.” These arcade and video game museums are clearly trying to pull the lowly video game with its “for amusement only” joystick out of the rubbish pile of societal detritus and to elevate the level of important cultural artifact.

They all seem, however, to depend on nostalgia. As the Museum *of Soviet* Arcade Machines puts it: “There are moments when you want to come back in the childhood for a short while, because there were so many interesting things that we remember cordially till now.” Perhaps these museums are struggling because nostalgia simply isn’t a powerful enough reason.