Tired of the usual gaming expos that offer nothing other than playing a wide range of commercial and indie titles? Ever wondered
how some of the games you play were designed, or better yet, ever thought about the social and political implications within
Well, then you'll be happy to find out that, from 8 September 2018 until 24 February 2019, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London hosted an exhibition called Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt that offered visitors a look into some of the most influential and radical games of the last decade and a half. These included Journey, The Last of Us, No Man's Sky and Kentucky Route Zero, to name a few. The exhibit was split into three sections, hence the name, and tried to relay the impact of the artistic, emotional, sexual and political themes found in video games since the early noughties.
The Design section was the largest of the three and showcased a handful of influential and revolutionary games, highlighting the thought process, inspirations and development behind them. Here you got to see design documents, spreadsheets, artistic sketches, storyboards and random notes for the games on display. Tech heads were also pleased to see various code segments, programming scripts and dialogue trees for some of the games.
The Disrupt portion of the exhibit focused more on the social and moral aspects in video games and showed how some games tackle sexuality, gun violence, racism, politics and gender issues. Here were games that have been banned from further distribution as well as games meant to change the way we see and think about certain things. Designed to keep our minds open about those controversial topics, this part of the exhibit no doubt made some heads turn, others think differently, spark interesting conversations and perhaps even shock or offend some people. They didn't call it 'Disrupt' for nothing!
The Play section was the last of the lot and offered visitors a chance to play some really unique games as well as view a video showreel of how the internet has revolutionized online gaming. On display here was a one-dimensional dungeon crawler called Line Wobbler, an arcade-backpack and other interesting devices put together to make gaming that much more exciting. Various arcade machines adorned the walls, for people to enjoy some unique gaming titles, and half a car stood ready and waiting for players to sit behind the wheel and control an on-screen game.
Overall, this was certainly an educational showcase of our video gaming culture, a culture rife with stereotypical views and one not yet fully recognized by everyone. A culture full of diversity and creativity. A culture that is growing each and every day, showing no sign of slowing down.