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Old 09-21-2010, 05:53 AM   #1 (permalink)
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TGS 2010: Gaming History Receives Its Due (Or Not)

Tokyo Game Show has always been about the new and the upcoming -- a look at the industry's future. At the same time, shows like this always offer some sort of nod to the medium's past, whether in overt ways (such as the museum of playable arcade games that occupied Kentia Hall during E3's better days) or in a more subtle manner, such as the endless lineup of classic ports to cell phones that used to be so prevalent at TGS.

So, when I saw mention of a Game History Museum on this year's TGS floor plan, I was pretty excited. Japan has played such a vital role in the history of games, surely there would be a lot of material for this museum, right? Maybe some hands-on exhibitions, some fascinating curios, some rarities and masterpieces to observe.

Or maybe it would just be an illuminated timeline stuck in a lonely, disused corner of the floor.

Yeah, this is it. Tucked in the back corner of the second hall space, the furthest possible distance from the main entrance to the show floor, the Game History Museum was a small monolith with a backlit timeline of the medium's history. Hey, at least it's something, right? But wait... this whole thing doesn't seem quite right. What could be the problem...?

Ah, that's it. This is the leftmost side of the timeline, where gaming history begins. Turns out there was nothing before the launch of the Nintendo Famicom, Sega SG-1000, and MSX computing standard! I could have sworn that I played some games before that -- something about a yellow pizza being eaten by Technicolor ghosts, I think? -- but maybe that's just my uncertain childhood memories playing tricks on me.

Seriously, though, this timeline was sort of baffling. It's not a history of arcade games, since those don't even rate a mention so far as I could see. It's not a history of the console industry, since the Famicom was hardly the first-ever console. It's not even a history of Japan's console industry, since the Atari VCS made it over here as the 2800, and plenty of Japanese companies (including Nintendo) made standalone Pong-clone systems and the like. And American systems do show up later on the timeline... the first to rate a mention being, inexplicably, the Atari Lynx.

Oh well. To TGS's credit, the show was much stronger overall this year than last. I suppose if that means the industry is getting its future into shape at the expense of commemorating its past, we can't complain too loudly. But hopefully if they run this museum exhibit again next year, it won't be quite so... shabby.

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