The history, culture, and future of video games
The exhibition Game On is a dazzling journey through time into the world of video games from 1962 to the present. This comprehensive exhibition at Art Museum Tennis Palace displays the development of game technology and design from room-sized computers to the latest consoles. It also presents the design process itself, starting with the initial draft plans and winding up with the final playable versions. The Museum will actually become a huge arcade where you can play more than 120 old and new games, from Space War to Pong and from Super Mario to Max Payne. Although the exhibition displays a wide range of video and computer games, it also seeks to encourage discussion about their significance and the effects of playing them.
Games have always been popular; all cultures have their own. They can be set in the physical world, they can be won by intelligence, and they may require cunning, spatial perception, and social skills. Homo ludens, man as a being that plays, seeks to solve problems and beat adversaries – herself/himself or the computer. Electronic games have fascinated people for more than four decades and their ever-rising popularity is global. We now speak of the ‘pixel generation’ – the under-forty group whose thoughts and images have been shaped by games as much as the cinema and television have moulded their elders.
Game On offers numerous perspectives on the new culture of games and its origins. The history of games and game machines is short but dazzling – like a leap from the Stone Age to the ‘virtual’ age. The exhibition presents this history with a display of vintage games, games consoles and an exploration of the impact that games have had on music and film. Still, the main attraction will be the opportunity to play the 120 games on display and hence to experience the development of this genre.
Today, games are one of the largest and fastest growing sectors of the entertainment industry. One of the exhibition's many sections depicts how games are marketed; another compares the game cultures of the USA, Europe, and Japan. The connection between games and art is explored in the exhibition and the exhibition includes works by international and Finnish artists related to games or commenting on them. Many games designers and academics are of the opinion that video games should be seen as a separate artform.
Public debate often links games to negative phenomena such as violence or antisocial behaviour. The extensive programme related to the Game On exhibition, including presentations, panel discussions, and workshops, will analyze our contemporary, game-permeated culture and also discuss the benefits of gaming.
The exhibition was organised by the Barbican Art Galleries London in collaboration with the National Museums of Scotland and its curators are Conrad Bodman and Lucien King, with additional research by Barry Hitchings. The exhibition architecture is the work of Tuomas Toivonen.
Partners for the exhibition are Helsingin Sanomat and Anttila Top Ten.
Guided tours: Free guided tours in Finnish on Wednesdays at 18, Saturdays and Sundays at 14, in Swedish on the first and third Sunday of each month at 13. For tours at other times, call +358 9 310 87003.