Our Accidental Visit To The National Videogame Museum in Frisco, TX

by joeheg

There are many reasons why people travel. Some want to see well-known landmarks like the Grand Canyon or the Eiffel Tower. But others travel to visit friends and family. We’ve done both and think it’s worthwhile to split your travels between the two.

Our trip to Dallas was to see friends and family, which is why we chose to stay at a Staybridge Suites in Plano, TX. While it was the perfect place to stay while visiting “our people” (except our friends Mary Lee & Ed – THEY were on a cruise. Harrumph! ;-)) there wasn’t much else nearby. We needed to “waste” an afternoon so I pulled up the TripAdvisor app, which is one of my must-have travel apps, to see what was nearby.

Much to my surprise, I found that the National Videogame Museum was located in nearby Frisco, TX.  The description sounded appealing.

As gamers, we all demanded it: A place where we can learn about the videogame industry’s rich history, where it’s heading next, and how we can all be a part of it. A place where we can meet and expand our vast community of creative and competitive minds. A place that exudes FUN in a permanent home where on any given day we can play the games of yesterday, today AND tomorrow. It’s HAPPENING in Frisco, Texas!

Regardless if I had never heard of this place before, it sounded like a place where we could kill a few hours before dinner. The admission fee was only $12 and it was located in the nearby Frisco Discovery Center.

Driving up to the parking lot, I wasn’t expecting much.

a building with a sign on the front

We entered the center and it wasn’t crowded. However, they did have a clever display at the entrance, with many of the video game icons I knew.

a group of cartoon characters on a circular display

The “museum’ was set up as a pathway through videogame history from the earliest home video boxes to today’s consoles.

Step one was an oversized interactive “PONG” controller, to remind everyone where this all started.

an old tv with a screen and a game machine

Stage 2 showed the progression of home video boxes from the Atari 2600 to Intellivision. That was followed by ColecoVision and eventually the Sega Genesis, PlayStation, Xbox and today’s machines.

a display of electronic devices

To look forward, you sometimes have to work back to the beginning. For many, that was an Apple IIe.

a close up of a computer

This was the first computer Sharon ever had, and she immediately got into the groove of her BASIC programming lessons.

a screen with blue text

Note from Sharon: I remembered how to do it! BTW, the photo below actually happened after I changed the code a bit and put a few blank spaces after my name. Otherwise it was SharonSharonSharonSharonSharonSharonSharonSharonSharon…

I feel sorry for whoever was the next person to work on this Apple computer. I’m sure this is exactly what Steve Jobs had in mind when he built the first Apple computer in his garage; a never-ending scroll of my wife’s name…

a screen with white text

My first computer was a Commodore 64. I spent way too much time playing GORF (which was only a Space Invaders rip-off).

a computer on a table

Other displays showed almost every Electronic Arts game for the C64 that I ever owned. Did anyone else spend hours playing Irving vs Bird One on One? The Bard’s Tale? Anyone?

a glass case with a group of video game cases

From there, you could revisit the electronic handheld craze. Football? Soccer? Tron? Anybody?

a display case with various video game items

From the home computer era, the museum shifts to the home console era. Yes, I was a spoiled kid and got an early edition NES with a R.O.B to play Stack Up.

a video game system in a glass case

Our living room didn’t look like this (Note from Sharon: I, on the other hand, had that near-exact paneling in our family room when I was a kid), but you could get a photo op of you playing an era-specific game while sitting on the couch, if you wanted, at the National Videogame Museum.

a room with a couch and a television

They had a similar photo op for a circa early-1980s bedroom, complete with a bean bag chair, Dukes of Hazard and KISS posters, and a Trapper Keeper.

Every paying customer received 4 tokens to the arcade located at the end of the museum.

I picked my games carefully. Classic Atari Star Wars (starting from the easy level).

a man playing a video game

Tron, also from level 1 so I could clear the 1st levels on 1 token (since I’m rusty).

a man playing a video game

Pole Position. If you’re not spinning the wheel as hard as possible, are you really playing?

a man playing a video game

As a kid, I spent so much money on Gauntlet on a single day in the Fiesta Fun Center at the WDW Contemporary Resort that I probably could have bought a Genie+ pass instead.

a man playing a video game

OTOH, Sharon played one game of Frogger and one game of Donkey Kong, and gave me her other 2 tokens. Amateur. (Note from Sharon: I saw that! As we said during that era, “Bite me!”)

The National Videogame Museum was so much more than I expected. Being buried in the back of a local “science center,” I thought it would be an educational display of computers.

Instead, I found a collection of video games, many of them functional, that was curated over several decades by someone who had the time (and the money) to put together something worthy of display. As someone who lived through this time and experienced many of these phases of video games, it was worth the money to relive my childhood.

The National Videogame Museum was way better than I expected and definitely worth a trip if you’re in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

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