2012/07/14

A trip to the museum

Last week I was in Berlin, partly in holidays and partly because wanted to see Pearl Jam in action (yes, I'm a Pearl Jam fan :D). That said, while diving into the Berlin metro stations, I've found this ad in a wall:

Oh, my my...
Yes, dear friends, I rubbed my eyes a couple times to be sure what I was seeing was real, there is a Computer Games Museum in Berlin!!!! Next morning I took the underground to the place, but, it was Tuesday and its closed on Tuesday (damn!), so had to come back next day.

Indeed!

Go back in time


The museum itself is located in Karl Marx Avenue, 93 (more info here), and while the place is not huge, whats inside is worth every minute. The place is well structured, time line is clearly visible and you can learn a lot if you don't lose your patience and do some reading. Also, some walls show videos that look confusing at first because, well, you're expecting a computer game always :).


In fact, there are quite a few elements displayed that are the ancestors of computer games, such as the mythical Dungeons & Dragons:


Thank gosh I brought my dice survival kit set along!
And the first computer game, as we can call them, the Ferranti-Nimrod 1951 (more info here) , emulated properly and....incredibly hard to beat too:


Not as easy as it seems...


Besides, there are also examples on the first attempts to create devices to interact with machines:






Something really funny I recognized at first sight, the old legendary Max Headroom Show 1985-1986 (more info here), the very first attempt to create a digital character with its own personality. I recall watching this as a kid and not really understanding what was going on, but it also fascinated me that the guy in the TV was not real and not a costume.


And I love, love, l-l-love... love those blip-blip-blip-blipverts!


A nice recreation of the first computer game that used a screen to display graphics, Spacewar! 1962 (more info here) was also available, shame it could not be used :(, although you could use the real arcade machine Computer Space 1971 (more info here) to try it.


Starwars!...ah,no...Spacewar!


One of the walls had a huge collection of all time video consoles and tv systems, along some very first timers desktop PCs:







I found this jewel, my very first encounter with something more technologically advanced than a TV: the Colecovision video console 1982 (more info here). I must had been 4 or 5 when I got it, and can't even remember how many hours spent playing good old Zaxxon. Notice the ZX spectrum on top and the Amstrad CPC on the right...tears dropping now, excuse me ...


Fuck Yeah!!!


One of the shelves contained what surely was the object of desire of many of us for many years in the late 90s, the Vodoo accelerating graphics card (more info here). The one in the image is the Vodoo 2. I remember that having one was like driving a Ferrari down town compared with using only a graphics card.

The ticket to first-class gaming those days


Another wall was used to display a timeline of good old games, some of them with the original bundles, man I'd kill to have such a wall at home :D, Elite, Mistery House... Some of the games could be played thanks to a TV and an emulator plugged to it, worth a try.

Nice shelves

Found a relic of one of those games that you played typing a set of pre-defined commands, and the game told you what was going on and some possible courses of action. The game is Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 1984 (more info here). Quite amazing those games are still entertaining nowadays, I gave it a try and spent half an hour playing with it.

No clue what the shades are for...

Many shelves contained elements that depicted the evolution of human-machine interfaces:

It's maraca time!!!
But also the evolution of digital storage devices (some more recent are missing, such as pen drives, SD cards):

Useless now...pity
Even more important than this, the evolution of Super Mario:

Mario looking for a Kart

Finally, a device that I always though to be a myth (mostly because no one seemed to have one at the time): the Nintendo Virtual Boy 1995 (more info here). Even if it was a waste of money, you must recon it still looks sexy:

Great for decoration!


But I want to play!

What can you do in a Computer Games Museum best? You guessed it, play. And you can do that in many ways in the Computer Spiele Museum. They have a section for retro arcade machines, hidden in a small section, where you cannot see it right away, but when you do, you find this:

Yes, it is the ONE

You saw it right, a Gauntlet arcade machine, in all its glory! For those of you who don't know what game Gauntlet was, check here, but I can guarantee it was one of the most addictive games of all times. I was lucky enough to know the owner of the place that had the Gauntlet machine and could get free credits...so I didn't have to sweat to play Gauntlet. Besides, we bought the game for the Amstrad CPC 64, and countless nights were spent playing this game.

Choose wisely
That said, my face of excitement was expected:

Best game ever? Sure it was :)

Besides Gauntlet, there were other old classics, such as Asteroids, Space Invaders and Frogger, all funny as the first day. Hard to believe that such simple games are still fun to play.


Give them Hell!

Besides, there was another section dedicated to consoles. One of them, the NES 8-bit, had the incredible World Cup game running, so I couldn't miss my chance:

No one playing?


Much better
Never really been a fun of football games, but this one is more about kicking the shit out (literally) of your opponents than your ability with the ball truly. 


Definitely recommendable


If you are a Computer Science geek you're gonna love what the Computer Spiele Museum has to offer, and if you only love games but don't have a technical background, you will also enjoy the experience, since you might recognize games and platforms that have grown up with you. Myself, I enjoyed both, discovered some history facts about computer gaming I did not known or had mislead and also enjoyed playing in old platforms, recalling my childhood (and not so childhood) days. I'll revisit the place whenever I go back to Berlin, for sure.









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