For video gamers, the Video Game Archive in the Duderstadt Center on North Campus is like dying and going to heaven. Every video console and computer game is there, from the Atari 2600 to Nintendo Wii, and so are 2,200 games that go with them–all booted up and ready to play.

The “playable archives” support the “teaching and research interests of students and faculty,” says founder and engineering librarian Dave Carter. “Several faculty members were involved in video game teaching and research, so we put together a proposal and it got approved. We opened in September two years ago.”

Where do you look for a 1980s version of PacMan? “Half the stuff we have is donated from staff members and people out in the community,” says Carter. Rarities include a Magnavox Odyssey2 from the late 1970s and a 1980s-vintage TurboGrafx console. “And earlier this week someone donated Steel Battalion, which is a Mech simulator that comes with a monster-sized control panel.”

Open every day except Sunday, the archive is “pretty busy,” says Carter. “In the afternoons and early evening, we’ll have ten and twelve people here, mostly students.” The archive will move to larger quarters at Duderstadt in December.

“We’re attempting to preserve the video game playing experience,” Carter explains. “So we have not only the old games, but also age-appropriate TVs to play them on. All we’re really missing is the shag carpeting, the beanbag chairs, and the lava lamps!”