Associative Memories

Syd Bolton's Video Game History

I think it has more to do with associative memory than anything. 

The reality is that they were the first things we had encountered of that type, that made a bigger impact for that reason. For gaming, we had nothing else to compare it to so the first games that came out were just darn amazing but it’s all we had. They weren’t just good games, they were things that changed the way we thought about televisions and interactivity and ultimately – control. We had control over the images on the TV and that’s not just something that could be taken lightly at the time, so I think people will really have fonder memories for their first gaming experiences over the ones today." 

The man speaking about first time gaming is Syd Bolton, a software developer, game historian, and lifelong videogame collector. He saw the value in maintaining a record of gaming technology and amassed one of the largest collections of video games and associated history in North America; over 14,000 games, 100 consoles, and 5000 magazines, almost a complete run of every game released in North America for every major console. When he passed away in 2018, he wanted his collection to stay together, be accessible to the public, and most importantly, for it to be playable. The University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) Library continues to uphold these goals and adds another: playing video games in service of interdisciplinary research and study. This exhibition provides a broad overview of videogame history, and aims to capture Bolton’s sentiments on exploring the way that videogames changed how people thought about technology, interactivity, and play. We hope it makes you want to explore the collection to revisit old favourites or make some memories of your own.