Sometimes, between hot shots and community controversies, it can be hard to remember why we fell in love with video games. Although games are a unique immersive and interactive medium, the artistic nature of them can be buried under the weight placed on their entertainment value. The latest exhibition of the Victoria & Albert Museum aims to excavate these dusty remains and put them in the foreground, reminding him why he fell in love with video games in the first place.
V & A videogames: Design / Game / Disruption exhibition is the first major exhibition of its kind in the United Kingdom, investigating contemporary videogames (from 2000 onwards) and how modern technologies such as the Internet have had an impact in its design and growing success, allowing designers to expand their borders and increase their cultural reach.
The design is at the heart of this exhibition, which from the moment you enter is evident. A quote from the 2014 Frank Lantz Game Developers Conference greets you upon entering. "Making games combines everything difficult to build a bridge with all the difficulty of composing an opera," says the quote. "The games are operas made of bridges".
The exposed elements focus on the various design elements that intervene in the creation of a videogame, from the orchestral scores to the illustrations and the CGI capture presented through interactive installations and multimedia surrounds. Scrawled notebooks and scraps of paper, desk decorations and pictures of animals or peculiar textures: this is how video games are really built and it is a deeply emotional experience.
The exhibition itself is presented room by room, with each section centered on a game or a particular issue. The first section focuses on design inspirations, craftsmanship and creative practice behind critically acclaimed titles such as The Last of Us, Splatoon, Journey, Bloodborne and Kentucky Route Zero.
It's wonderful to see the team behind the indie-hit Journey glide across the sands of the Californian dunes with a handkerchief to investigate how the main character dressed in clothes would move through the desert landscape, to see the developing sketches of the Nintendo Splatoon characters arranged next to the adornments of the developer Jenny Jiao's desk that influenced the artistic style of her mobile title Consume me. These are the people that drive the design of videogames to new horizons.
The second section explores the common controversies surrounding the games and the debates they provoke. Why are games so white and focused on men? Is armed violence and sex in games right? Why is the medium so Westernized? What is the role of games in society? It's the fourth & # 39; taboo & # 39; of the games.
Games like "How do you do it?" From Nina Freeman, who sees a young woman exploring sexuality through dolls, and the capitalist satire story Phone Story are on display for visitors. Each controversial title has several journalistic arguments scattered around it, while a screen shows video clips of respected people in the industry talking about their personal experience. Video games are entertainment, but they can have an important social impact, if that is what they choose to be.
The third section aims to show the dedication of the player community: the oil that keeps the engine running . A large screen shows the dedicated work of the Minecraft players who rebuilt Game of Thrones Poniente, professional players who fight in stadiums of thousands and admirers who express their love through art and cosplay. It's exciting to watch and it reminds me why I entered the video game industry in the first place: because of passion.
After having guided you through video games as a medium, the final section allows you to put your hands on the basic arcade games: DIY machines produced from love, dedication and a creative spark. These are not the games you'll see at your local retail store, these are the wonderful quirks that are outside the main box.
Video Games: Design / Play / Disrupt from September 8, 2018 to February 25, 2019 in room 39 and the North Court of the V & A Museum in London. Advance tickets cost £ 18, but V & A members can access the exhibition for free.