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UK Museum Celebrates Handheld Gaming with New Exhibition

Posted by James Newton

Full disclosure: it's in Swindon

Nintendo fans have a better grasp on handheld gaming than many, but Swindon Museum of Computing in England is about to plot the history of the portable with a new exhibition.

The new 'Gaming on the Go' exhibition charts 35 years of handheld history, starting with Mattel's 1976 Auto Race, a game running on a reprogrammed calculator chip with 21 LEDs for a display. Naturally there'll be plenty of Nintendo handhelds there too, from Game Boys to 3DS consoles; our History of the Nintendo Game & Watch makes a good read to prepare for the exhibition, too.

Swindon Museum of Computing launches 'Gaming on the Go' Exhibition

Whether it’s 'Brain-Training' on the train or 'Donkey Kong' on the beach, the modern handheld games console lets us play computer games wherever and whenever we want. In a new exhibition, the Museum of Computing in Swindon looks at the 35 year history of this device. It features some of the most (and least) successful portable games consoles, the machines that laid the foundations for mobile gaming today.

In 1976, toy company Mattel launched 'Auto Race', a portable electronic game with a 21 LED display, a reprogrammed calculator chip as its central processor and a program that fitted into half a kilobyte of memory. Despite its simplicity, it was a great success. Mattel followed it with many others including such classics as ‘Football’ and ‘Sub-Chase’. Fast forward to the present day and the latest console from Nintendo the 3DS, has two high resolution colour screens, one touch sensitive the other 3D, stereo sound, motion sensors and augmented reality software.

"It’s not often you get to see such an amazing collection all in one place" commented museum curator Simon Webb. "This is a fascinating look at the machines, the games and the technology, it's certainly come a long way"

Gaming on the Go has over 50 exhibits with many available for visitors to play. The exhibition is open until late summer 2011, standard museum admission charges apply.

The exhibition is open now until the end of summer, located at the Swindon Museum of Computing, 6-7 Theatre Square, Swindon SN1 1QN. Opening times are: Fridays from 10am to 4pm and Saturdays from 9.30am to 5 pm.

Admission fees are: £5.00 for a family ticket, £2 for adults, £1.50 for Students and Concessions, children age 6-15 yrs cost £1, under 5's go free. All children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. We welcome school parties and private groups by appointment.

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User Comments (8)



Gavin_Rozee said:

Nice. Swindon is my hometown and I'm here at the moment visiting my parents. Might pop down there later and have a looksy. I'll send some pics in if I do go.



Ren said:

cue all the auto race fanboys. NGP is going to have way better graphics.
Seriously, though, I wish they had such a museum like this closer to me, that looks very cool. Closest thing to that is the "people play games" shop here in Chicago. awesome stock of vintage stuff there.



Gavin_Rozee said:

Just went there and they were closed. I read the open on Fridays as open on Monday to Friday.

Ah well, will go tomorrow or Saturday.



James said:

@Gavin Definitely send in some photos and let us know what you make of the museum. Sadly I can't go but I'd be interested to know what it's like!



Gavin_Rozee said:

Went today. It was pretty cool. The only major consoles of recent times that they didn't have were the PS3, 360, PSPgo, Virtual Boy and a few others.

The guy who seemed to be in charge was cool, he set up a game of Pong for me and my Dad, which I won. This other kid who was working there though was trying to tell me how bad the 3DS was and that if I get one I'll get headaches and need to take it back like the people in
The Sun did. Shame ive put over 80 hours into my 3DS without a single headache :S Anyway, other than him, it was worth the price of admission.

I took some photos, but they aren't too bright due to the crappy iPod Touch camera. What would be the best way to send them in?

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