How It Came To Be: National Videogame Museum

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

Team Multiverse has had the amazing opportunity to partner with The National Videogame Museum and John Hardie on our upcoming event at the Museum. We also had the chance to get a private tour of the museum from John personally before the event takes place. We learned a lot of awesome things about gaming history and Johns journey. John was kind enough to share with us the story of how the museum came to be so I've taken the liberty of transcribing his story for you all to read. Hope you enjoy.

John Hardie

John Hardie: So it goes back to the early 80s. My partners and I were collecting games. Probably in the very early 80s, like 81 or 82 time frame. We wanted to know more about the games, who wrote that game. All you knew was the company, like RCA or whoever. Who wrote the games right? How come that game you were waiting for never came out? What was going on at the companies at the time? So we started tracking down the people who were involved with producing the games, and that kind of grew this whole thing. We didn't know each other at the time. We probably didn't meet until the late 90s, but individually we had been kind of doing the same thing. Independent research, adding to our collections which back then was you know fairly inexpensive compared to what it would be today. We had the chance to buy a lot of prototypes and one of a kind type things. We've gone dumpster diving into the garbage, the big 16 foot dumpster that companies would just literally throw product out. So you know that just kept growing and growing until we met up in the mid to late 90s. We then started one of the first videogame conventions in 1999, it was called Classic Gaming Expo which was out in Las Vegas.

Classic Gaming Expo was a gaming convention dedicated to the people, systems and games of the past, with an emphasis on old video games. The Expo was founded in 1999 by John Hardie, Sean Kelly and Keita Iida, In 2000, Joe Santulli replaced Iida as the show's co-organizer. The conventions have typically been held in the Las Vegas Valley, Nevada, but have sometimes been held in Silicon Valley. In addition to the expo, Kelly, Hardie and Santulli founded the Videogame History Museum, a traveling museum of classic video games and equipment that is on display at events like E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) and GDC (Game Developers Conference). In April 2016, the traveling museum celebrated the building of a permanent facility known as the National Videogame Museum in Frisco, Texas. Currently, as of May 2020, Hardie is the resident curator.

John Hardie: Now we ran Classic Gaming Expo till about 2014, and in 2004 we went to E3. We had been sneaking in for years to E3 but we went to the people in charge and said, hey what do you think about us doing an exhibit at E3 on the history? They loved the idea so we had a lot of fun in the early days of E3 because we would set up, in Kentia Hall and were given many display cases so we would have many fun displays like old controllers, and we'd put up signs that read see the latest in controller technology at Classic Gaming Expo's booth. It was a lot of fun with that type of stuff, and the exhibit was a hit. The first year we did it we won Best In Show from Xbox Magazine of all things right. We had the 80's living room and the arcade and it kept growing. Eventually they moved us up, so now we are over in the south hall which is a pretty big space, sometimes even bigger than some of the big companies there.

E3, also known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is a trade event for the video game industry. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) organizes and presents E3, which many developers, publishers, hardware and accessory manufacturers use to introduce and advertise upcoming games and game-related merchandise to retailers and to members of the press. E3 includes an exhibition floor for developers, publishers, and manufacturers to showcase titles and products for sale in the upcoming year. Before and during the event, publishers and hardware manufacturers usually hold press conferences to announce new games and products.

Official Xbox Magazine (or OXM for short) was a British monthly video game magazine which

started in November 2001 around the launch of the original Xbox. A preview issue was released at

E3 2001, with another preview issue in November 2001. The magazine was bundled with a disc that

included game demos, preview videos and trailers, and other content, such as game or Xbox updates

and free gamerpics. The discs also provided the software for the Xbox 360 for backward compatibility

of original Xbox games for those without broadband and Xbox Live access. As of January 2012, OXM no longer includes a demo disc. In mid-2014, the U.S. version was merged into the UK version

on the website, which lasted only a few months until Future plc announced that it was closing its website along with all the other websites that Future has published, including Edge and

Computer and Video Games. In February 2015, OXM and all of Future's video game websites were redirected into GamesRadar.

John Hardie: So things expanded. We started doing more shows, and game developer conferences. South by Southwest, PAX, you name it we were doing them. Some of the Kamikaze shows out in California, Comic Con type things, and we got up to about 4 or 5 shows a year. Then we dropped off on our own show, we did this traveling exhibit. We ended up at this show called D.I.C.E with all the big wigs of the gaming industry.

The D.I.C.E. Awards (formerly the Interactive Achievement Awards) is an award show in the video game industry started in 1998. The awards are arranged by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS), and held during the AIAS' annual D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas. "D.I.C.E." is a backronym for "Design Innovate Communicate Entertain". The nominees in each category are selected by a peer panel assembled by AIAS of over 100 video game professionals across several facets of the industry, including developers, programmers, artists, and publishers, which is published on the AIAS website each year. The nominees are then voted on by the full membership of AIAS (of approximately 22,000 members) via a confidential and secured voting system, and winners are subsequently announced during the D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas, typically the February of that year. Due to this approach, the D.I.C.E. awards are considered the main peer-based recognition within the video games compared to the other major awards.

At that D.I.C.E show we met a man named Randy Pitchford. He's the head of the Gearbox Software and he was in Plano but he was moving to Frisco Square. If you haven't seen it yet you will, he has his own building right there in Frisco Square. It's right above the Nirvana Restaurant. He said to me, "Hey I'm moving and I got the ear of the city. I love what you guys are doing, why don't you come down." So he brought us down there and we were just 3 guys. He said " Hey meet the city, meet the mayor, the CDC, Visit Frisco" you name it. We pitched this idea that this was just a big open space, completely empty with just 4 walls. "They used to build rockets here, but here's what we want to do", and he help push it along with the city. Then the city invested in our idea, and that's how we ended up in Frisco, TX. That's the long story. It was kind of like lightning strikes right place right time kind of thing, but it really worked out and he was a big supporter and to this day he still is.

Randy Pitchford is an American businessman. He co-founded video game development studio

Gearbox Software in 1999, and serves as president and chief executive officer for the company.

Pitchford began his career at 3D Realms in Texas, at the time known as Apogee. He stated that part

of the incentive for joining 3D Realms was that he would receive a share of the profits for the games he worked on. Titles that Pitchford worked on include Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior.lox Software in 1999, and serves as president and chief executive officer for the company. Pitchford began his career at 3D Realms in Texas, at the time known as Apogee. He stated that part of the incentive for joining 3D Realms was that he would receive a share of the profits for the games he worked on. Titles that Pitchford worked on include Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior. A group of 3D Realms developers and programmers left the company to form Rebel Boat Rocker around 1997, and Pitchford left 3D Realms to join them by May 1997. The company's first game was to be the first-person shooter Prax War to be published by Electronic Arts (EA). Pitchford served as the lead level designer as well as the public relations head. However, EA opted to cancel the game around January 1999. With no publisher-backed project, Pitchford joined four other Rebel Boat Rockers, some his former 3D Realms colleagues, to found Gearbox Software in February 1999. The name was selected to compare their team to an efficient and well-balanced transmission gearbox. Overall, Pitchford's credited titles have sold more than 100 million copies. Games he has overseen at Gearbox have included Borderlands, Bulletstorm, and Borderlands 3. In addition to his work as an executive and designer, Pitchford has provided public speeches on the subject of the gaming industry.

IvorySlim: We want to give a huge thanks to John Hardie for partnering with us, and for sharing that interesting story on how him and his colleges started the National Videogame Museum. Beyond that he has already personally taught us a lot, and has been kind, and very open to working with us. If you are reading this John thank you.

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