This review of the University of Michigan Computer & Video Game Archive is part of our Summer Series: Wednesday Activity Reviews. This review was originally published based on our Summer 2018 visit. They moved to a new location in summer 2022. We have updated their location, policies and game availability in January 2023.
Our Visit to UM Computer & Video Game Archive
Last week my daughter and I attended a Japan Week event at the UM computer and Video Game Archive which is a division of the University of Michigan library. I had never heard of the archive before, and was amazed to learn that they are open to the general public.
The UM Computer & Video Game Archive has a whole wall of games including Atari 2600, Nintendo 64, Wii, Wii U, Sega Saturn, Sega Genesis, Playstation, XBox through recent systems like the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Sony Playstation 4. They also have the systems and accessories to play all of the games. Note: As of January 2023, they list the Nintendo Switch as their most recent gaming system. They do not list a PS5 or an Xbox Series X.
Events from our Sponsors
Our first station was setup with Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast, Sega Genesis, and an original Nintendo.
Since we were visiting for Japan Week, they had a series of consoles setup to play games from Japan. My daughter browsed through the games and picked a Nintendo 64 game featuring Yoshi from the Mario series. It was quite the challenge to play the game in Japanese since we could not understand the prompts. She eventually figured out the objective and completed two levels before getting stuck on a third level.
My daughter also decided to try the original Mario Bros for the Atari 2600. She was having trouble with figuring out how to kill the koopas. I took a turn with more success. Even though I never had Mario Bros, enough Atari and first generation Nintendo console stuck with me to figure it out.
Visiting UM Computer & Video Game Archive
The UM Computer & Video Game Archive is FREE! Games can be checked out for use in the archive for 4 hours. You do need to check out the game with an MCard or by leaving a photo id (drivers license). For systems with a wait list, your session is limited to one hour.
The UM Computer & Video Game Archive is best for older tweens and teens. Kids under 13 must be supervised by an adult at all times. An adult may supervise up to 3 minors.
The UM Computer & Video Game Archive moved from North Campus to Main Campus in summer 2022. (Our visit and review was from the North Campus location).
The UM Computer & Video Game Archive is now on the 4th Floor, Room 4041 of Shapiro Library (919 S University Ave). With this new location, make it a gaming day by including a visit to Pinball Pete’s.
The new location offers more opportunities for parking with public lots and street parking around campus. The bus is also a very convenient way to get to the Computer and Video Game Archive.
The UM Computer & Video Game Archive hours change based on the season/UM Semester. They are typically closed on UM breaks and between semesters. For the winter 2023 term, they are mostly open Monday-Thursday noon-8p and Fridays noon-6p and closed over university breaks.
They have a reservation system, but you need to be UM faculty, staff, or students to make a reservation. They take walk-ins based on availability.
What Not to Bring
Food is not allowed in the Computer and Video Game Archive. Drinks must be in sealed containers. Backpacks and bags are also not allowed in the archive. There are racks where you can leave your bags. You may bring personal games, controllers, and peripherals except internal hard drives. You must let staff know you have your own equipment.