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Barbican Gallery Launches 'Game On' Microsite

by Rainier on March 11, 2002 @ 8:07 p.m. PST

Barbican Gallery today announced the launch of its microsite dedicated to "Game On", the first major and most comprehensive UK exhibition to explore the 40-year history of computer gaming (1962-2002). The general public will now be able to book advance tickets by accessing the new microsite.
This comprehensive exhibition is divided into 16 sections:

Section 1: Early Arcade Games:
This section explores the early history of arcade games. In 1962, Steve Russell a researcher at MIT (Massachusettes Institute of Technology) designed a game called Space War! on the DEC PDP-1 computer, the first game to be developed on a computer with a monitor, which will be included in the display with the original paper tape code of the game - the first piece of game software?

A range of rare vintage arcade games will be shown, such as the first manufactured arcade game Computer Space (1971) and Pong (1972) both developed by Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari. Other major playable games from this period - Space Invaders (1978), Asteroids (1979) and Pac-Man (1980) - will also be included, along with rare ephemera such as original publicity materials and early merchandise.

 


Section 2: Game Consoles
This section explores the story of game consoles from 1972 to the present day. It describes and displays the range of machines produced by Atari, Sega, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and others, which have brought gaming into the home over the last 30 years. Visitors will be able to play and see some of the key consoles, including the first one made for the home - the Magnavox Odyssey (1972). Following the exhibition tour, these consoles will form a unique permanent collection at the Museum of Scotland.

Section 3: Games Families
This section looks at the world of games and examines where the impetus for different kinds of gameplay has come from. With 35 playable games, this area is divided into three main parts and follows the classification of games families devised by the Le Diberder brothers in their book L'Univers des Jeux Video:

Thought Games: games which have their origins in traditional board games and text adventure books including Puzzle Games (Mr Driller), Classic Games (Chess), Adventure Games (Secret of Monkey Island) and Role-Playing Games (Dragon Quest).
Action Games: Action games in the following categories: Reflex Games (Parappa the Rapper), Racing Games (Indy 500), Football Games (FIFA Soccer), Shoot Em Ups (R-Type), Fight Games (Virtua Fighter 2) and Platform Games (Pitfall).
Simulation Games: Life Simulations including Military Strategy Sims (Metal Gear Solid 2), Sports Sims (Football Manager), Flight Sims (Microsoft Flight Simulator), Complex Sims (Sim City) and games such as Ultima which are played within persistent online worlds.

Section 4: The Making and Marketing of Games
The game design process from concept drawing to packaged product is examined in this section, focussing on five of the most important games of recent times: Grand Theft Auto 3 (Rockstar Games), The Pokémon phenomenon (Game Freak), The Sims (Maxis), Tomb Raider (Core Design) and Final Fantasy (Square).


Each display will include never previously exhibited original artworks of character sketches and environmental designs. Some of the key creative thinkers behind the games including Will Wright (The Sims), Satoshi Tajiri (Pokémon), and Yoshitaka Amano (Final Fantasy) will also be profiled.


Section 5: Games Culture - USA and Europe
This thematic section looks at the way games reflect and influence wider culture. Key areas for consideration are the debate over violence, the role of the independent game company and the influence of sport on games. Playable games include Mortal Kombat II, Castle Wolfenstein 3D and NFL Blitz.

Also explored are some of the key game developers in North America and Europe. Playable games will include Deus Ex (USA), Rayman (France), and Max Payne (Finland). Consideration will also be given to game culture in what is often referred to as ROW (rest of the world) ie in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America.

Section 6: Games Culture - Japan
This section looks at what is distinctive about the Japanese contribution to games and includes displays on the influence of manga (comic book art) and anime (cartoons). Playable games will include a version of Dragonball Z and SailorMoon.

Other important areas of Japanese game culture featured are dating games and life simulations. One of the most well known dating games in Japan Tokimeki Memorial will be shown in the exhibition alongside train driving simulation game Go by Train.

Japanese games have been distributed worldwide and this section considers how games are culturally converted or localised for overseas consumption. The exhibition compares these differences in character design, landscape and music in games.

Section 7: Character Design
Game characters have had a significant profile since Pac-Man was launched in the '80s. In this section, the development of two of the most important game characters: Sonic and Mario will be explored, and in particular, the role of their creators, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto (Mario) and Sega's Yuji Naka (Sonic). Visitors will be able to play two of the most important games associated with these characters Super Mario Bros and Sonic the Hedgehog.

Section 8: Kids Games
The rich history of games designed for children is explored in this section. Playable games include Hey You! Pikachu and Ms Pac Man. There will also be a display of hand-held games and a collection of portable gaming systems, including the GameBoy and MB Microvision. A lounge area has been created for 3-5 year olds to play recently released games.

Section 9: Sound
Sound is one of the most important aspects of game design. This section will explore early music from the 8, 16 and 32 bit eras, sound effects and composed music for games. Visitors will be able to play games that have taken music as their theme including Rez and Space Channel 5.

The area devoted to composed music will explore the work of Koichi Sugiyama, one of Japan's leading composers who has written music for the Dragon Quest series of games and it will also explore the work of the prolific UK game composer Richard Jacques.

Game trailers (Full Motion Videos) which include sound tracks by contemporary musicians will also be shown in this area. Many well-known music stars have been involved with making music for games, including David Bowie, the Chemical Brothers and Robbie Williams.

Section 10: Cinema
Games have often been closely associated with film. This section looks at examples of links between the two media with playable arcade games including Star Wars (Atari) and Tron (Bally Midway), and more recent console-based hits renowned for their dynamic game play include Golden Eye and Star Wars Rogue Leader.

Many films have been developed from games. Original film posters from Super Mario Brothers, Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider will be included along with clips from film sequences which have emulated some of the visual styles associated with games.

Game designers have looked to film as a source of inspiration and some games are increasingly becoming more filmic. Here we will explore the work of Japanese game designer Hideo Kojima who has used a range of cinematic techniques to create drama and suspense in his recent Metal Gear Solid games.

Section 11: Multiplayer Games
With the arrival of the network, multiplayer online gaming has become one of the most important gaming trends of recent times and has changed the landscape of PC, console and arcade based gaming already. This section looks at the most popular online games, which are often played by many thousands of people simultaneously. The exhibition explores the social aspects of online game play and at the development of online communities.

A changing programme of online games will be shown during the course of the exhibition featuring the best of online and console based multiplayer games.

Section 12: Resources
Visitors will be able to access some of the best game web-sites and look at popular game magazines.

Section 13: Contemporary Arcade Games
This section includes a selection of some of the most exciting recent arcade games including the dance game Dancing Stage and the motion sensing game sword fighting game Tsurugi.

Section 14: The Future
A range of emerging technology and content trends will be showcased, giving some indication of the shape that gaming may take over the next decade and will include Japanese 'communication games', PlayStation 2 USB camera technology - a revolutionary new type of games interface from Sony, and the latest 3rd generation phone technology.

Past visions of Future technology including the Vectrex Imager and the Nintendo Powerglove will also be shown.

Section 15: Screening Room
Recent television documentaries will be screened here, along with a selection of game influenced pop videos, FMV's and Machinema (digital movies created by online game players).

Also, games that are released during the course of the exhibition on the Playstation 2, X-box and GameCube platforms, will be playable here.

Contemporary Commissions: the 'Easter Eggs'…
will showcase a series of digital-art commissions, premiering new works by a range of leading contemporary artists. All of the works are produced in response to computer games and provide an examination of the strands that underlie this cultural phenomenon, examples from cinema (Mark Dean) and music (Scanner, Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway) to cultural stereotyping and character analysis (Tony Ward, Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie). Games such as Sim City and Quake have taken the gaming experience close to architectural spaces and masterplanning in many ways and this cutting-edge development is illustrated in a dynamic new piece by b consultants. Aesthetic sensibilities, style and beauty are compared and contrasted by key SimCity and Simsville designer and painter Ocean Quigley. An existing (Thomson and Craighead) work, Triggerhappy gives participants the opportunity to obliterate extracts from Michael Foucault's essay "What is the Author", in the style of Space Invaders.

Exhibition Book:
The History and Culture of Videogames includes essays by leading commentators on computer games including Steven Poole, J.C Herz and Henry Jenkins, published by Laurence King. Price £19.95 (188 colour illustrations) accompanies the exhibition.

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