Many Gen-Xers recall with fondness Nintendo’s iconic Power Glove, a special controller for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It didn’t work too well, but it was a cool-looking, technologically advanced gauntlet that is now highly collectible.
For the first time ever, the public can view a prototype of the Power Glove as part of the National Videogame Museum's new Virtual Reality exhibit.
“It has never been seen before,” says John Hardie, curator and co-founder of the Frisco museum. “It looks nothing like the finished product. It’s very different. It’s this pink glove with sensors attached going to different circuit boards. It’s really cool to see.”
The Virtual Reality exhibit, which Hardie says is a permanent installation at the museum, features a number of other rare and unusual items as well, including a Virtual Boy, which was Nintendo’s failed attempt at a 3D console, and an Atari Mindlink, which is a futuristic (for the time) Atari 2600 controller you wear as a headband.
In keeping with the museum’s “videogames are meant to be played” mentality, much of the VR exhibit is interactive. Among other activities, visitors can play an original Battlezone arcade machine. Released in 1980, Battlezone is a first-person shooter with an immersive twist.
“That was a cool game that made you feel like you were looking through a periscope, guiding a tank,” Hardie says.
One of the most popular displays is sure to be the PlayStation VR system. Even though it is currently available in stores, it will be a new experience for many museum guests since it’s a relatively expensive peripheral device not included with the purchase of a PlayStation 4 base console.
Hardie says there are some misconceptions among the general public as to what, exactly, defines virtual reality.
“It isn’t necessarily putting on a helmet,” he says. “Anything that brought you closer to the game or made you feel like you were in the game would be considered VR. Anything that makes you feel like you are in the game is technically VR. It’s really cool to try to broaden that definition for people.”
Hardie calls VR “very up and coming”
“It’s the big push nowadays,” he says. “We’re at that point where there are a lot of different options out there with consoles and computers. They’re really starting to push the limits on what you can do with virtual reality.”
The Virtual Reality exhibit is open now, and included in price of museum admission ($12 general; $10 ages 10 and under, senior citizens, educators, and active military.) The museum is free for kids ages 3 and under.