International Center for the History of Electronic Games Acquires Bunten Papers

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Rochester, N.Y. -- The International Center for the History of Electronic Games at the Strong has acquired the Dan Bunten (Dani Bunten Berry) Papers and related historical artifacts documenting the life and career of the game developers best remembered for his creation of M.U.L.E. (1983), the multiplayer online game that helped inspire future generations of multiplayer game developers.

Included in the Bunten materials, in addition to M.U.L.E., is the rare game Wheeler Dealers (approximately 50-100 were sold), one of the first boxed computer games. Other games include Robot Rascals, Heart of Africa, Cartels & Cutthroats, Cyber Masters, and Computer Quarterback. Also acquired are Bunten’s personal papers related to his career in the game industry; these include game concept documents and game descriptions, press clippings, business papers, photographs, and other personal records.

Bunten’s children, who have formed a company dedicated to their father's legacy, donated the papers. Daughter Melanie Bunten Stark says, “It is a privilege to have our dad’s work at a place that truly understands what ‘play’ is all about and our dad would be humbled and honored.”

Says ICHEG director Jon-Paul C. Dyson, “The Bunten artifacts and the Dan Bunten (Dani Bunten Berry) Papers donated by the Bunten family represent a significant addition to the center¹s archival repository of electronic game history; they take an important place alongside other major ICHEG holdings, among them, collections from such luminaries as Ralph Baer, Don Daglow, and Will Wright.”

Dan Bunten (1949-1998) is generally acknowledged as one of the most important programmers of computer games during the time of the development of the personal computer. At a time when almost all games were only for one person, he pioneered in the development of multiplayer games, with titles such as Wheeler Dealers, Computer Quarterback, and M.U.L.E. In addition, Bunten’s game Modem Wars was the first to take advantage of modems for game play and, as such, was a predecessor to today’s Internet-based gaming.

M.U.L.E., Bunten’s first game published by Electronic Arts, inspired many programmers in the computer industry. In an interview in Salon, The Sims creator Will Wright says, “Ask most game designers what their favorite computer game of all time is and you’ll get M.U.L.E. as an answer more often than any other title.”

Bunten is one of only 13 members of the Hall of Fame of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences; and less than two years before his death from lung cancer, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Computer Game Developers Association. Among his legacies is his oft-repeated quotation: “No one ever said on their deathbed, ‘Gee, I wish I had spent more time alone with my computer.’”

Some of the Bunten materials will be on view at eGameRevolution, an interactive exhibit on the history of electronic games produced by ICHEG and scheduled to open at the Strong’s National Museum of Play in Rochester, N.Y., on November 20, 2010. The 5,000-square-foot exhibit follows the history of video games from pioneer Ralph Baer¹s first Brown Box games to today¹s high-tech Xbox 360. Guests will be able to enter a recreated, old-fashioned video arcade featuring more than two dozen operating historic video games or visit one of several emulator stations around the gallery and challenge themselves to dozens of classic and contemporary PC and console games.


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