As the first instalment of our Real-Life Gaming column, we are doing a brief overview of a museum known for hosting a large number of operational retro video games. Called the Centre for Computing History (CCH), this small museum is located in Cambridge, England.
What You’ll See
The entry fee – adult admission £8, and for children aged 5 to 16 £6 – buys hours of valuable time spent with out-dated electronic components, namely computers, calculators, and game consoles. This warehouse of a museum gives visitors a direct connection to the past. Step back in time with the Atari VCS, ColecoVision Games Console, Sega Dreamcast, or any of the 24,000 pieces of machinery housed in the CCH. There’s even an old-school virtual reality device with graphics that are surprisingly passable considering its age.
Originally opened as an educational charity, the CCH is unique in that it demonstrates how digital technology has advanced in the past 60 years simply by allowing visitors to interact with defunct machinery. Exhibits are hands-on, examining the “social, cultural and historical impact of the Information Era” through both text and technology. While visitors can certainly bypass the textual information to go straight to the plethora of retro games housed in the large backroom, it is fascinating to read about a past buried in smartphones, tablets, and handheld game devices.
Forget what you know of architecturally grand museums or the non-traditional location of the CCH may be unsettling. In place of splendour sits an ordinary building nestled into a commercial estate, its humble appearance a reflection of the outmoded machinery within. Before you pack your bags for England, keep in mind that this intimate location is usually open 5 days a week – Wednesday to Sunday. Over school holidays (i.e. Christmas, Easter, summer), the museum stays open for the entire week.