Games Masters: An Exhibition by The Australian Centre for the Moving Image
This exhibit lasted from the 5 Dec – 20 Apr 2015 in The National Museum of Scotland and featured over 100 playable games, Game Masters showcases the work of more than 30 leading videogame designers.
When he first walks through the doors into the national museum of Scotland, our intrepid adventurer is instantly surrounded by the weird and wonderful things on display. Even before you reach the ticket office or make your way into any of the free exhibitions always on display, your attention is gripped by interesting and yet seemingly unconnected things. It has a wonderful way of distracting your mind, from the outside world as you make your way through the wonderful world of interesting information. However, our brave adventurer was not here for the usual things. Oh no. His mind was afire with the promise of gaming knowledge and so he moved on. Past the railway signals and scale models of Saturn 5 rockets that sit almost side by side in their wonderfully scatter-brained way. On to an escalator surrounded by bright white walls that make it seem like he is heading into another world. Upon reaching the top he is greeted by the Official Workers of the Games Masters exhibition. Always ready to welcome another soul into their lair, affixing upon their arm the fabled ‘Wristband of Access’ which shall grant all who are deemed worthy (i.e. those with a ticket) 3 hours access to the wonders within. And it is with his heart in his mouth that he steps through the doors, and into the land of the games designer.
The first thing he encounters is an old (yet pristine) Donkey Kong arcade machine, with many of it’s compatriots arranged alongside. Games from yesteryear such as Asteroids, Space Invaders and PAC MAN all stand proud, even in this modern day. And let me tell you… they’re hard as nails! Enshrined alongside each machine is a history of the designer(s) who brought these games to life. The original pioneers of the gaming industry. Gods amongst men to our adventurer no doubt. However, it must be said here that these are no mere exhibits to be displayed but never touched. Oh no I tell thee. The buttons on these machines are here to be mashed with all the excitement you would expect. One more go to beat that high score is only unavailable when there is someone else waiting behind you. I can tell you now that there almost always will be.
After passing these machines you come across one of the Scottish additions to the exhibition. Dundee’s greatest gaming wizards DMA Design are given the first section. And rightly so. As creators of both Lemmings (believed to be the best selling game of it’s time) and the original GTA they are truly masters of the art of game creation. Alongside PCs where you can play lemmings there sits a signed original 1997 publicity poster from GTA and a TV playing a making of documentary. Our adventurer may have been trying to work out how to pilfer said poster but decided that it would be too much effort.
Moving around the rest of the exhibition he comes across I pads with headphones playing interviews with all the designers whose work is showcased around him. From Blizzard’s World of Warcraft and Diablo III on PC (and PS3 for D3) to Nintendo’s The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword on the 3DS Even Singstar, Rockband and Just Dance! All of which are playable although our adventurer did not partake in the party games. He is a modest sort and the idea of exhibiting either his magnificent singing voice or his limber moves upon the floor of dance to such a wide audience gave him the screaming heebie-jeebies.
As you move around the corner you are greeted by a mighty sight. A large model (almost big enough to sit in) of the Battle Bus from Tim Schafer’s Brutal Legend. Unfortunately this is one of the few things you don’t get to touch, however the game is sitting right next to it on a PS3 so at least you get to see it in action.
Alongside all of the games there are original design documents, concept art and even laminated copies of a designer’s notebook that he scribbled ideas and thoughts into for all his titles. Whose notebook I hear you ask? Well I’m not going to tell you. You’ll have to come see for yourself. This interesting look behind the scenes and into the world of both independent and big budget games design is wonderful to behold.
As he is leaving, our wide eyed explorer ponders all the wonders he has seen and played. Believe me, we have only covered a small portion of the whole exhibition in this story. We wouldn’t want to give it all away now would we? What would be the point of going to see it for yourself then? It was truly an interesting view into the world of games development. And more importantly into the history of it. For Donkey Kong and PAC MAN may not have arrived in arcades for the first time within the lifetimes of many of the visitors to this realm, but they were the originals of their kind, and should be remembered as such. As the giants on whose shoulders their modern counterparts stand.
For they were….
The Original Games Masters.