There's only one more weekend to experience THE coolest interactive exhibit I've seen in a while.
|100 games over 10,000 square feet? #yesplease|
I'll be the first to admit that video games (and video gamers) have gotten a bad rap over the years.
|You can really see the full evolution of characters|
I was long an opponent of the medium. I never grew up playing video games, and it was hard for me to see the value in it.
|Another popular booth: Guitar Hero|
But over the years I've come to see just how rich this technology (and the worlds it builds) is. There are so many fascinating elements about video games that have started to get serious celebration from vaunted organizations (MPR's fabulous podcast Top Score about the orchestral music written for video games is one such example) and it's really bringing the world of gaming out of the small screen and into the mainstream.
|The detail is extraordinary|
Game Changers, an ongoing exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota, is the perfect vehicle for novices and hardcore game heads alike to educate themselves about this world. It's an encyclopedic exploration of the history of video games, from the very first Space Invadors and Pac-Mans to the decades-long complexities of world-building games like SimCity or World of Warcraft. Visitors can not only read about the history of these games, their technology and their creators - they can also actually play each of the games mentioned on the original equipment. And this is not to be downplayed: the arcade space is comprised of more than 100 games over 10,000 square feet, an enormous temple to the sport of true gaming.
|The sketches are endless|
I was really blown away by the intricacy and detail of this exhibit. There is such a lineage to the construction of games - much like novelists or painters or chefs can directly credit those who came before them as inspirations and foundations to build their art on and expand it to new heights. Many games also have original sketches and models on display so that you can see the process from ideation to inception, and it's a really powerful visual testifying to just how complex the process of creating a game is.
|A group dance station was easily one of the most popular elements|
The global nature of gaming is included as well, with different regions appearing in focus with distinctive art styles and plotlines. Japan is the clear standout among regions outside of the United States, but there are also creative games from Sweden, Korea and a host of other countries. It is one more example of the unifying power of sharing an interactive world with someone else, and much like Trekkies, gamers have a friend wherever they go.
|Gorgeous color sketches|
This is an exhibit appropriate for groups of all ages and is actually an amazing way to connect with kids whose modern knowledge of gaming you may not understand. I took my niece and nephew with me, both of whom are avid gamers, and they had the time of their lives. We don't always have a lot to talk about directly, and I learned so much about them from the way they engaged with and explained each of the games that I never would have gleaned in casual conversation. It was a really fun day and reminded me how quickly things change from generation to generation. It was almost impossible to tear the kids away from the exhibit when we needed to go and it was packed to the gills, so I can testify first hand that the price of admission is absolutely worth it. The kids even loved the current omnitheater film about Cuba, which is not a subject they're normally interested in. This trip was a grand slam in terms of keeping them interested and occupied!
|Loved this creative monster|
And about that - another benefit to Game Changers is that admission is included in general admission to the Science Museum; this is not a separate ticketed event like many of their special exhibits have been. It's all the more reason to take your family or your date on a field trip to check it out before it closes on May 5. Run, do not walk, to go - there are limited edition games here that you very well may never see in working order again in your life. It's a fabulous, affordable trip for families or dates and is guaranteed to teach even the most serious gamer something they didn't know before. Click here for more information or to buy your tickets!
|Up a little closer|
An indicative list of the games available includes:The Arcade Heroes section spotlights pioneering designers from the trailblazing and revolutionary arcade era, including Ed Logg (Asteroids, 1979), Tim Skelly (Reactor, 1982), Masanobu Endo (Xevious, 1982), Toru Iwatani (Pac-Man, 1980), Eugene Jarvis (Defender, 1980), Tomohiro Nishikado (Space Invaders, 1978), and Dave Theurer (Tempest, 1981).
|Long lines to play the vintage games like Asteroids, pictured here|
The Game Changers section features leading contemporary designers who have had a major impact on shaping the medium as we know it: Blizzard Entertainment (Diablo III 2012), Tetsuya Mizuguchi (Sega Rally Championship, 1995), Peter Molyneux OBE (Fable III, 2010), Yuji Naka and the Sonic Team (Sonic the Hedgehog, 1991), Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy (Rock Band 3, 2010), Tim Schafer (Broken Age, 2014), Warren Spector (Disney’s Epic Mickey, 2010), Yu Suzuki (Hang On, 1985), TT Games (LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, 2014), and Will Wright (SimCity, 1989).
|Full story boards|
The Indies section explores the groundbreaking and future-focused world of independent game designers. Artists such as Jonathan Blow (Braid, 2008), Capy (Critter Crunch, 2007), Eric Chahi (Heart of Darkness, 1998), Jakub Dvorský (Botanicula, 2012), Firemint (Flight Control, 2009), Halfbrick (Fruit Ninja Kinect, 2011), Introversion (Dawinia, 2005), Markus ‘Notch’ Persson (Minecraft, 2014), Rovio (Angry Birds, 2009), Erik Svedäng (Blueberry Garden, 2010), and The Behemoth (Castle Crashers, 2008) are profiled in this section.