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Group raising funds to establish a video game museum in San Francisco

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As any video game player can attest, beating one level and reaching the next can be a daunting task.

But the Bay Area-based Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment is attempting to accomplish it without a joystick or screen.

MADE, a nonprofit group seeking to preserve the history of video gaming while legitimizing video games as works of art, hopes to establish The City’s first and only video game museum by raising $20,000 by April 18.

The group began its all-or- nothing fundraising campaign on Feb. 12 via Kickstarter.com, a website where people can fund budding projects. If the group doesn’t raise the necessary $20,000 by April, it’s “game over” for the project. But with MADE netting $7,000 in less than 48 hours and now sitting on about $12,500 in the bank, raising $20,000 appears a realistic goal.

“It just sounds like a lot of people think this is a really good idea,” said Alex Handy, the group’s director. “We plan to ride this wave of enthusiasm.”

In an attempt to reach out to the gaming world, MADE members manned a booth at this year’s Game Developers Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, exhibiting some museum relics while demonstrating different video game techniques.

Though the group seems well on its way to its fundraising goal, Handy knows making the museum a reality won’t be easy.

Similar projects have been attempted before, but have ultimately failed because an actual museum involves more than just collecting “stuff” in a basement, Handy said. MADE has a board of directors with about 30 volunteers, some of whom are working around clock to make the museum a reality.

Assuming MADE hits its $20,000 mark, the next step would be landing a 2,000-square-foot facility, preferably near the Moscone Center and a BART station, Handy said. Keeping the doors open, however, is another matter.

“Museums have to make money,” Handy said, noting that grants would play a key role in keeping the facility open. Event and entrance fees would also contribute to the project’s funding.

The museum’s newly crowned curator, Nealon Ledbetter, landed his current spot on the MADE team two weeks after learning about the project.

“This is literally a dream come true,” he said. “I was put on the Earth to do this.”

Collector’s items

From 1980s computer games to PlayStation discs, here’s a few items from MADE’s enormous collection of relics:

Cabbage Patch Kids: Adventures in the Park
Significance: Only known unreleased prototype for the Atari 2600.
Era: 1984
Originally released for: CelecoVision

Dungeons and Dragons: Cloudy Mountain Cartridge
Significance: First cartridge game to exceed 4K of ROM, using 6K.
Era: 1982
Originally released for: Intellivision

Power Glove
Significance: The first virtual reality consumer product.
Era: 1988
Originally released for: Nintendo Entertainment System


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