Monday, October 28, 2013

Game On 2.0 Exhibition at the Museum of Technical Science Stockholm

The exhibition Game On 2.0 is organized by the Barbican Center in London and opened last Friday at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm. I experienced it today, moving through more than 100 playable games on consoles, handhelds, arcade boxes and personal computers from the past 50 years of interactive computer games.

GAME ON 2.0 - Ontario Science Centre Exhibition from CNW on Vimeo.

Highlights of Game On 2.0 include an original 'Computer Space' by Nutting Associates (1971) captured in this video of actual play.


I was very impressed by the audio used in Computer Space. Computer Space was the world's first commercially sold coin-operated video game and video game system of any kind (predating magnovox odyssey) It's the first coin-operated arcade game to use a video display to generate graphics via video signal (predating Magnovox Odyssey). It was built by Nolan Bushnell (a founder of Atari and Chuck E' Cheese).

Also featuring in the exhibtion is a Magnavox Odyssey, the world's first commercial home video game console. It was first demonstrated in April 1972 and released in August of that year, predating the Atari Pong home consoles by three years. It is a digital video game console, though is often mistakenly believed to be analog, due to misunderstanding of its hardware design. The Odyssey lacked sound. 

Here are a few detail shots of the Odyssey from the one on show in the exhibition.

The following are two examples of Computer Space (1971) in original green and ruby arcade cabinets. Each stand almost 2 meters tall and has an other-worldly feel to them. But I suppose that was the idea back in the day.

Of course as everyone knows, the first real computer game was Spacewar, which Computer Space was based on. This is acknowledges in the exhibition:

 Some of the oldest games in the exhibition are handhelds. 

The other outstanding feature of the Game On 2.0 exhibition are the sketches, models and drawings from some of the biggest games ever made.

Finally, another highlight I want to mention here from Game On 2.0 is a simple piece of nostalgia. It is Galaga in an original arcade cabinet. I played Galaga at skate rinks, shopping arcades, as well as in bus stations as my parents dragged my brother, sister and I around Greece and Turkey on a 6 month hippie odyssey in 1982. Suddenly in the National Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm I was 13 years old again as I assumed the rapid fire hunched posture I knew all those years ago. This time my two sons were beside me, and we each played a round of Galaga. It was a magic moment.

The Game On 2.0 exhibition runs from 25 October 2013 – 27 April 2014 at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Stockholm. Take the Bus 69 to Museiparken from the stop near Sergels Torg oppostite the Åhlens. I recommend it to all, and plan to return myself. It is a popular account of computer games that avoids any difficulties or the darker sides of gaming. I noticed the absence of the Wolfenstein games, but due to the Nazi imagery maybe this was too difficult.

Be warned that at high demand times (like now) you buy a 50 minute slot of time at the exhibition. These have to be booked once you have purchased your tickets. The staff say this may change later in the year, but it depends on how demand goes. Fifty minutes is not enough to see the whole exhibition. The rooms are not that large and they are filled with games. I could have easily spent 4 hours there.

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