Sometimes, between hot takes and community controversies, it can be hard to remember why we fell in love with video games. Although games are an unmatched compelling and interactive medium, their artistic character can be buried under the weight attached to their entertainment value. The latest exhibition of the Victoria & Albert Museum aims to dig up these dusty remains and put them in front and in the middle – and remind you why you fell in love with video games in the first place.
V & A's video games: Design / Play / Disrupt Exhibition is the first major exhibition of its kind in the United Kingdom, which examines contemporary video games (from 2000) and how modern technologies such as the Internet have had an impact on their design and increasing good luck. designers to push boundaries and increase their cultural reach.
Design is the core of this exhibition, which is evident from the moment you enter. A quote from the 2014 Game Developer & # 39; s Conference by Frank Lantz greets you as you enter. "Making games combines everything that is difficult to build a bridge with everything that is difficult for composing an opera", says the quote. "Games are opera's made of bridges."
The exhibited items themselves focus on the different design elements that are used in making a video game, from the orchestral scores to the artwork and the CGI capture that is presented by immersive multimedia and interactive installations. Scribbled notepads and shreds, desk decorations and photographs of special animals or textures – this is how video games really are built and it is a deeply emotional experience.
The exhibition itself is set out room by room, with each section focusing on a specific game or theme. The first section concentrates on the design inspirations, craftsmanship and creative practice of critically acclaimed titles such as The Last of Us, Splatoon, Journey, Bloodborne and Kentucky Route Zero.
It is a miracle to see the team behind indie-hit Journey gliding through the sand of a California dune with a scarf to investigate how the garb protagonist would move through the desert landscape, to create the evolving sketches of Nintendo's Splatoon characters. can be seen next to the desk knick-knacks from developer Jenny Jiao, who influenced the artistic style of her mobile title Consume Me. These are the people who push video game designs to new horizons.
The second part deals with the common controversies around games and the debates they cause. Why are games so white and aimed at men? Is violence with weapons and sex in games OK? Why is the medium so westernized? What is the role of games in society? It is the & # 39; taboo & # 39; room of the games.
Games such as Nina Freeman & # 39; s How Do You Do It ?, in which a young girl explores sexuality through puppets, and capitalist satire Phone Story is shown to visitors. Each controversial title has several journalistic arguments around it, while a screen displays video excerpts from respected individuals in the industry who speak about their personal experience. Videogames are entertainment, but they can have an important social impact – if that is what they choose to be.
The third part is meant to show the dedication of the gaming community – the oil that runs the engine. A large screen shows the dedicated work of Minecraft players who have rebuilt Game of Thrones & Westeros, professional players who record in stadiums of thousands and fans who express their love through art and cosplay. It is emotional to look at and reminds me why I went into the gaming industry in the first place: for the passion.
After you have led the most important of video games as a medium, you can find arcade games for the base in the latter part – do-it-yourself machines made of love, devotion and a creative spark. These are not the games you will see in your local store, these are the strange quirks that are outside the regular box.
Video games: Design / Play / Disrupt runs from 8 September 2018 to 25 February 2019 in Room 39 and the North Court of the V & A Museum in London. Presale tickets are £ 18, but V & A members have free access to the exhibition.