When we saw that the Victoria & Albert Museum in London was holding a video game exhibition until February, we had to find an opportunity to go along. We wanted to share our experience of the exhibition and hopefully encourage anyone visiting London in the next few months to try and attend!
DesignPlayDisrupt opens with an insight into some of the big (and beautiful) games that have come along in a the last few years. Among these are Bloodborne, Journey and The Last of Us but not only do we get to enjoy a visual experience of some of the gameplay but we are treated to notebooks, test footage, music and other aspects of the design and creation process which I personally always enjoy seeing. I loved being able to see the storyboard for The Last of Us laid out in post it notes and watching the video about how to play Bloodborne and take down the monsters but also to see the artwork for Journey and No Man’s Sky up close was a treat. It shows you the creative processes that go on behind these games and shows the work that goes into them. While those of us who are fans of gaming will have an idea of what goes on behind the scenes, it offers those who think ‘they are just games’ a different perspective.
Something we thought was particularly well done, was how everything was presented in a way that non-gamers would understand and appreciate, without coming across as “patronising” to those of us who do have an in depth knowledge of the games industry. This meant non-gamers can understand what they’re seeing, while gaining a bigger appreciation for the artistry that goes into the games that we love so dearly, while the gamers in attendance will, perhaps, gain a deeper appreciation for just how much work goes into the games we play.
As well as an insight into game creation and design, there are also areas that explore the impact games have on society, the social commentary around sex, race and violence which feature interviews with developers and experts. These areas were particularly interesting and it would be nice for these interviews to become available at some stage for those who could not attend the exhibition.
There is also a mini theatre showing another side of gaming! Cosplay, online interaction, creation through Minecraft and eSports. All of which show the reach that gaming has outside of your living room or bedroom. This again offers another insight into what the gaming industry has to offer. It isn’t just about sitting and playing on your own. It’s about interacting, competing, creating and even building your own world.
Finally, the exhibit offers a play area with some family friendly fun with games of a different kind that may seem a little odd on the surface but still offers a gaming experience that everyone can enjoy. This area was filled with you folks and their families taking it in turn to play against and with each other. It was great and really encouraging to see people playing together.
DesignPlayDisrupt runs until February 2019 and we would highly recommend a visit for anyone and everyone who is interested in gaming. It offers a great space for discussion about game play, game design and the wider impact gaming has in a social space. Time slots are available but sell out fast so we would recommend fixing a date and getting booked in before it ends.
Our thanks to the V&A for the opportunity to visit the exhibition.