(Photo: Taylor R/Unsplash)An educational institution in Canada is now able to offer students a firsthand tour through video game history, thanks to the recent acquisition of a famous 14,000-title collection.
The University of Toronto Mississauga was recently gifted what’s known as the Syd Bolton collection, an assemblage of thousands of video games and gaming-related magazines. Syd Bolton himself was a programmer from Ontario who took pride in collecting tech memorabilia and sharing his library with the public. Up until his death in 2018, Bolton curated and ran the Personal Computer Museum, which had more than 50 computers—from Atari and Commodore to Apple and Mattel—and a range of original software on display. But when Bolton passed, the museum was shut down. His massive collection has since remained untouched.
Bolton’s wife reached out to U of T Mississauga hoping the institution would properly maintain the collection while keeping its troves of video game history accessible to the public. The university recognized the unique educational opportunities inherent in the collection’s diversity and jumped on the opportunity. As of now, U of T Mississauga’s library staff are working on processing the 14,000 games, 5,000 gaming magazines, and hundreds of consoles and gaming-related books.
— Syd Bolton (@sydbolton) May 4, 2018
“The collection is comprehensive as it contains hundreds of games from dozens of video game home entertainment systems over the past 50 years, including a handful of arcade machines,” the university said in a statement. “The collection is also complete in several sections where Bolton purchased every copy of a game released in North America (including special editions) on several game consoles, such as the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation.” Fairly unsuccessful games and consoles, like the Panasonic 3DO and the Sega Saturn, can be found in the collection, as can lesser-known “edutainment” consoles like the Sega Kids Computer Pico.
The Syd Bolton collection will allow U of T Mississauga faculty and students to gain a comprehensive understanding of video game history firsthand. It might even open the door to more varied course offerings. “In terms of academic study, it’s really important to look at the history of something that has such a pervasive impact on everyday life,” Chris Young, the university’s head of Collections and Digital Scholarship, told CBC. “On our campus in particular, there’s been a growing interest in…offering courses that teach students how to study game artifacts, to study the histories of games and the social cultural impact of games.”
A 278-page list of the items included in the Syd Bolton collection can be found here. (It’s worth mentioning that the university will continue updating the items’ processing statuses.) While it’ll take quite some time for library staff to wrap up the acquisition, students are already able to request temporary access to certain consoles and titles.