Behind the Bezel: Coin-Op Arcade Video Game Cabinets as Design History

Interactive media and games increasingly pervade and shape our society. In addition to their dominant roles in entertainment, video games play growing roles in education, arts, science and health. This seminar series brings together a diverse set of experts to provide interdisciplinary perspectives on these media regarding their history, technologies, scholarly research, industry, artistic value and potential future.

Join us every Friday From April 3rd until June 5th from 12pm-1pm in Shriram 104.

Also listed as one-unit course BIOE196. For more information contact

Never Miss An Event; Join Our Email Community


Raiford Guins

Raiford Guins, Behind the Bezel: Coin-Op Arcade Video Game Cabinets as Design History. This talk will argue for an expanded view of ‘game design’ to account for the industrial and graphic design of the historic coin-operated arcade video game cabinet. Attention is afforded to machines produced between 1971 and 1979, before color monitors and multicolored graphics became prevalent. Focusing on a period before the ‘video game craze’ hit full swing with its major ‘stars’ on the horizon and with the design paradigms of older electromechanical games still prevalent, it provides a look into machines for which cabinets played a much larger role in ‘filling in the gaps’ when the modified TVs behind the bezel still radiated in black and white. Technological constraints compelled cabinet design to play a contributory if not constitutive role in defining the game and gameplay. The talk closes with a brief introspective discussion of the particular problems facing the research of coin-op history while signaling the importance of Design History to the critical historical study of video games.

Raiford Guins is an Associate Professor of Culture and Technology within the Department of Cultural Analysis and Theory at Stony Brook University. He is also Founding Curator of the William A. Higinbotham Game Studies Collection and Principal Editor with the Journal of Visual Culture. He has recently published Game After: A Cultural Study of Video Game After (MIT Press, 2014) and co-edits the MIT Press Game Histories book series with Henry Lowood.