Our Collections

The museum's focus is on the historical development of gaming and as such has a clearly defined scope for the collection. The definition of gaming here is gaming for entertainment, learning, or development and as such the museum does not intend to include Toys, Puzzles, Gambling, or Sporting items in its collection. The museum's current focus is on developing seven main categories of objects.

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Main Categories


I. Ancient Gaming
Our collections tell the story of gaming. The earliest games were developed in ancient Egypt, Rome, and China and many of the objects and ideas familiar in today's games originate from these cultures. Playing cards, board games, counters, dice, etc all have ancient roots.


II. Playing Cards
Playing Cards have may their roots in ancient China but they are a long standing contribution to the world of games leading right up to modern day. Playing cards were used for amusement and for gambling. Their face design is an art form in its own right while their backs can be illustrations, abstract patterns, or even advertising space.

Playing Cards are designed with such variety, they deserve their own category to fully explore their development. The museum's collection includes items to show the art and historical development of these common household items.


III. Parlour and Party Games
By 1840 the industrial revolution had changed English family life by taking manufacturing away from the home and creating a distinction between home and work which had not previously existed. The Industrial Revolution also created a middle class of professionals, such as lawyers and doctors, who lived in much better conditions and, along with the upper classes, had increased leisure time in which to socialise and hold small parties.

This was the dawn of a new era for gaming as parlour games became more common in many homes and eventually formalised through manufacture. Boxed parlour games were very popular from 1920 through to the 1960's creating a whole new industry.


IV. Tabletop Board Games
As parlour games developed so did board games, bringing more strategy to a closer circle of players. Board games have been around since Ancient Egypt and were also enjoyed by the Vikings and Romans but in the 1920's advances in colour printing made board game manufacturing a new industry both in England and the USA. There was a shift in production scale and variety which continues into modern day.

The museum has many examples of board games including many first editions and rare prints. The collection will identify the significant contributions and include information for collectors and general interest.


V. Roleplay Games
Roleplay were games developed out of military simulation and strategy planning. Historical re-enactment of battles can take place on a table top which represents the armies and the terrain, allowing players to focus on strategy and military tactics.

In the 1970's this extended by allowing players to roleplay characters on the battlefield rather than being overseers of the battles. The was the dawn of Fantasy Roleplay games. This collection contains items such as: Warhammer, Heroquest, and Dungeons & Dragons including many complete boxed games, books and guides, promotional sets, and a vast array of game miniatures.


VI. Computer Based Gaming
Between the 1970's and 1990's a whole new industry was born, that of computer based gaming. Arcade machines started to appear in pubs, cafes and social clubs but gained so much popularity that they soon had dedicated buildings. In the 1980's the amusement arcade was the main place to play games. Leaps in technology saw the home games consoles catching up and by the 1990's video games at home were as good as, if not better, than those in the arcades. This effectively saw the end of the video arcade but did allow the industry to grow in new directions.

This collection contains boxed examples of home entertainment systems, development systems and special development hardware, development documentation, hand-held gaming devices, tapes and cartridges, promotional goods, arcade machines, circuit boards and other items of games technology.


VII. Special Interest Items
The special interest collection will contain items that do not fit into other categories but are relevant to the museum's aims. This might include advertising, promotional items, hand written design notes, development materials or anything related to the development of gaming.