Review: Videogames at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Think museum exhibitions and computer games don’t mix? Think again. The V&A is currently celebrating the art behind gaming, until 24 February. Read on to find out what our writer Bethan Kapur thought of Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt.
Apparently, a third of the world plays video games, yet they remain widely misunderstood – the likes of Candy Crush are usually disregarded as guilty pleasures. With Videogames however, the V&A is taking them seriously.
Video games are such rich forms of media that, when pulled apart, you can appreciate just how majestic they are. Each game in the exhibition is dissected, with the reasoning and inspirations of the creators laid bare, through scribbled sticky notes on pin boards or sketches of graphics. On paper, an illustrator’s skill is more apparent. There’s a video of a choir singing the music for a game here – I became even more impressed.
Another game plays next to a surrealist painting, which it aimed to recreate, while another games encourages you to reflect on eating disorders. These examples make you realise the thought that went into many of these.
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Like great art, some computer games cause trouble. The politics of this world are portrayed through recent quotes from critics, on subjects including violence and gender equality. I learned that Apple once banned a game called Phone Story (above) from it’s app store; Apple said it was banned because it included violence against children, but it could have also been because Phone Story portrays smart phones negatively...
For light relief, the final room resembles an arcade, with levers, flashing lights and a repurposed car, so it’s ideal if you’ve brought a friend. It’s a happy reminder that games aren’t always political – sometimes they’re simply about bringing people together.
Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Rd, SW7 2RL
020 7942 2000 | www.vam.ac.uk
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