Manchester Museum Celebrates Videogames

Sam Halford reports from Manchester Museum of Science and Industry’s first ever videogames event

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Videogames are suddenly getting a lot of serious attention, with museums allowing attendees to take an in-depth look at both their history and their playability. A couple of months back we had Game 2.0 at Newcastle’s Life Science Centre and currently the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) is running its first ever videogames event – called PLAY it.

“We’ve worked with the museum quite a few times on smaller events, and they approached us asking if it was possible to run a much larger event as tribute to the videogame industry,” explains Andy Brown of Replay Events, which has co-organised the event with MOSI. “We’ve been communicating with the museum for several months and PLAY it is the result of that hard work.”

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But what’s the difference between an event like this and a gaming area at a convention such as Comic Con? “This event has a wide appeal about it,” enthuses Brown. “People who been gaming all their life, newcomers, or really any level of person who would have a vested interest in video games. PLAY IT is certainly diverse and an event that parents can bring their kids and show them how they use to play whereas kids can show their parents how it should be done. It’s a slice of the gaming industry from the last 40 years.

“We organise the equipment for a lot of conventions that hold gaming areas and I can honestly say that the scale of this event is a lot, lot bigger. Plus there’s a real opportunity to learn more about the industry rather than just play, also there’s the saving, if you’re attending a convention JUST for the gaming zone then this will be a lot better value in terms of cost and scale!

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Running until 9 August 2015, the event takes visitors on a journey through the greatest landmarks in videogames history. The interactive experience explored over 120 playable games, modern and retro, which were spilt into six different zones linked by theme, content and brand. Scattered throughout the event were displays revealing more about the game, console or type of game, so attendees learned more about their favourite titles as they played.

Brown points to the number of classic titles available in marketplaces such as the Apple Store as proof that retro gaming still has a place in the modern world. “So many classic games have been remade and are racking up huge amounts of downloads. I think there’s something special about games created before flashy graphics, as they had to be really appealing and addictive. It’s the gameplay that really stands out with these retro games.”

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Visitors to a 1980s computer room also get to experience an early developer’s life, including fun challenges such as freestyle Basic programming to classic educational games such as Granny’s Garden. The exhibition fittingly features a tribute to Ocean Software, a company that was established in Manchester in the 1980s and became globally renowned for some of the most iconic games produced on the Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST, SNES and Mega Drive.

There is also the opportunity to experience the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset – one of our personal favourites – and really live the game. Not that Brown believes modern gaming has a larger focus on graphics over gameplay.

“I wouldn’t say that. There is an argument that modern games tend to become formulaic but if you look at today’s industry as a whole you’d see that some very exciting story and gameplay comes through, particularly from the indie titles.”

Tickets start from £5 for an individual to £12 for a family ticket. Individual and family sessions to book are also available for purchase.

More information can be found here.

Loads more images from the event can be seen at EntertainmentFocus.com.

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