Frisco – If the theme song to the old Nintendo game Super Mario Brothers still strikes a cord when it comes to your childhood, and a chance to play the game itself floods you heart full of memories. Now, you can Super Mario until the sun sets at a stupendously sized museum in Frisco known as the National Videogame Museum.
“I feel like I’m 14 again,” Michelle Ybarra said.
John Hardie heads the charge when it comes to these plug and play pieces of equipment that have stood the test of time for the most part.
“Everyday, I turn them on, and it’s like, ‘What’s not gonna come up today?,’” John said. “They’re that finicky, you know?”
Originally from New York, John moved down to Texas when his museum become a reality in 2017.
“…My wife’s from Texas,” John said.” I lived in San Antonio for five years in the 80’s, so that made me an honorary Texan. They allowed me to move back.”
John and a couple of buddies had a big collection of back in the day technology. What used to be a traveling display of yesteryear’s hottest Christmas toys has turned into a full time interactive collection at the museum where having fun is not frowned upon.
“Traditionally, you hit a button and maybe something lights up,” John said. “There’s not much interactivity in a museum, and we felt that we had to turn that model on its head and do something complete out of the … everything had to be interactive. Kids today, they’re adaptable. They’ll play anything, right? They like the new stuff, of course, but they’ll play the old stuff, even though the graphics aren’t as pretty or whatever. Dads like us, you know, you and me … we grew up with this stuff. So it was second nature to easily … to bring those people in.”
While showing up your kids at your kind of games in popular around here, it’s also about showing the younger generation what life was like back in the 80’s.
“So this is two of my favorite exhibits,” John said. “We have recreations of an 80’s living room and an 80’s bedroom. The 80’s living room is something we’ve been doing since we started doing shows. We always had just a couch and a TV and period/era type stuff, and people always identified with it. The wood paneling, the fake plant. Right? Your afghan on the back of the couch. This was your mom’s or your grandma’s living room, you know?”
One of the most popular spots in the whole complex is a recreation of an 80’s video arcade.
“It’s called ‘Pixel Dreams’, and 42 arcade machines from the era,” John said. “Neon, blacklight. The 80’s music. We have a high score board. You get your name up there if you beat the house champion. And you can see all pretty much every classic that people really will remember or identify with.”
The amount of games, gadgets and interactive displays seems as long as the list of game titles the ol’ Blockbusters used to have. From virtual reality, one of kind games, to prototypes of popular gaming accessories like the original power glove this museum has it all.
“I think there’s still a stigma today,” John said. “You talk to somebody, ‘What do you do?’ ‘I run a museum.’ And I shouldn’t feel this way, because I know what it is, but they’re like, ‘Oh, what kind of museum?’ I’m like, ‘Video games,’ you know? And it’s just the way I was raised, because even growing up, there came a point where you were supposed to stop playing video games.”
We’re all still kids at heart, and the National Videogame Museum doesn’t just bring us back. It lets us show our kids just how totally radical life was all those years ago making it a fun filled stop on the Texas Bucket List.
I like how there’s the games when my father was a kid here, and I never knew it’d come this far in these years all the way from the 1900’s to the 2000’s,” Andy Castillo said. “It’s a long time.”