Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt review

Museums V&A , Brompton Until Sunday February 24 2019
4 out of 5 stars
Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt review

On hearing the title of this exhibition, you’re either going to think: What a great excuse to play eight more hours of Journey, just to re-familiarise myself with the NPCs, or: What? Video games? Like Pac-Man?

Admittedly, the first few rooms of this show about the culture and history of video-gaming feel like a fanfare that can only be heard by die-hard gamers. It walks you through all sorts of scene-development processes, early prototypes and character sketches that might leave you a bit ‘Oh, cool’ – in modest awe at the intricacy and skill it takes to create a smash hit.

But just before you get thoroughly bamboozled by all the tech and hit eject, you’re met with a wave of noughties nostalgia: Tamagotchis, Nintendo DS games, Minecraft… From then on, it’s a multiplayer party – everyone’s invited.

The show also guides you through the intriguing political and social conversations surrounding the industry, like ‘Why are video games so white?’. And you get to play ‘How do you do it?’, the premise of which is to engage an 11-year-old girl’s dolls in sexual activity as many times as you can before her mum sees.

But then, you get what you really came for: the chance to be let loose in an arcade full of games you’d otherwise never, ever get to play. You emerge feeling how Tom Hanks did after frolicking in that Fifth Avenue toy store in ‘Big’. Maybe this isn’t just a gamer’s paradise after all. If you had doubts at the start, you’ve been won over: you’re a fanatic too now.

By: Samantha Willis

Venue name: V&A
Contact:
Address: Cromwell Rd
London
SW7 2RL
Opening hours: Mon-Thu, Sat, Sun 10am-5.45pm; Fri 10am-10pm
Transport: Tube: South Kensington
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