California’s Stanford University snaps up a collection of 650 retro arcade photographs


Space Invaders. Flares. Mullets. Deep concentration and hours wiled away with unblinking eyes. Stanford University Libraries’ latest acquisition to its archive of rare photographs is a collection of glorious black-and-white videogame nostalgia. Captured by the lens of award-winning photographer Ira Nowinski between 1980 and 1981, the photographs show a defining era in American arcade game culture, fashion and history.

The full Nowinski arcade collection consists of approximately 650 35mm images, with only some, such as the above striking fellow playing Centipede and others below, having been digitised.

They join the largest collection of videogame paraphernalia in the world. While the library’s primary focus is archiving games released since the early ’90s (complete with consoles to play them on), the collection dates back to the ’70s, and also includes treasures such as Richard Bartle’s notes relating to the development of the first multi-user dungeon at the University Of Essex.

With over 20,000 games in the collection, and a related project attempting to archive documentation of virtual worlds, few institutions rival Stanford in its commitment.