Tuesday, 1 January 2008

play your way through the history of video games

Rare early arcade games from the late 70s and early 80s stand alongside the latest technology in videogames in Game On, the worlds biggest ever exhibition dedicated to the history and future of gaming and games culture. The exhibition, which opens at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) on March 6, features over 120 playable games, including:

Pong (1976), Space Invaders (1978), Asteroids (1979) and Donkey Kong (1982); homeconsoles and personal computers from the past 30 years including working versions of the Magnavox Odyssey (1972) - the first console to made videogames playable on the TV screen and early PCs such as the Commodore 64 and the Sinclair Spectrum; classic movie-inspired games such as GoldenEye; Star Wars and Discs of Tron; a special kid friendly games area; as well as sections devoted to sound design and music in games; Australian-developed games, online games and original games artwork.

Space Invaders will be playable on the original cocktail table machines which populated the pubs, milk bars and arcades of the world in the late 70s, while GoldenEye (still considered one of the best first-person shooter games of all time) will be playable on its original platform, the Nintendo 64.

Exhibition Overview

Early Arcade Games
This section traces the development of video-games - from their birth in the research labs of America, to their colonisation of the bars and arcades. Included in the exhibition is Spacewar (1962), the earliest electronic space game ever developed and played on a room-size computer; the first arcade videogame to be developed Computer Space , (1971) and Pong (1972), the iconic table tennis game that gave the fledgling medium its first rush of mainstream popularity and remains one of the most widely played videogames of all time.

Games 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 are able to play and see some of the key consoles, including the first one made for the home - a replica of The Brown Box (1968) the first prototype designed to make video games playable on the TV screen, and also its subsequent commercial release the Magnavox Odyssey (1972). Also included is the console fondly remembered by many Gen X'ers as their first introduction to home gaming - the Atari VCS. Featuring a simple console with snappy wood-grained panelling, two joystick controls and all games supplied on separate cartridges, the Atari VCS (later renamed the Atari 2600) single-handedly created the home-gaming market, and is ranked in PC World Magazine's most 50 Best Tech products of All Time.

Games Families
This section looks at the world of games and examines where the impetus for different kinds of game play 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. Games featured in this section include adventure games Secret of Monkey Island and Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the racing game Indy 500, and simulation games such as Sim City.

This section celebrates the critical importance of sound in game design and explores early music from the 8, 16 and 32 bit eras, sound effects and composed music for games. It showcases composers whose music has featured in games including well-known music stars such as Orbital, Gorillaz and Prodigy.

This section looks at the links between videogames and film and features playable arcade games such as Star Wars (Atari) and Discs of Tron (Bally Midway), and more recent consolebased hits renowned for their dynamic game play including GoldenEye (Rare). In addition, this section showcases original posters and clips from films that have been developed from games such as Tomb Raider and Resident Evil.

Games Culture - USA, Europe, Japan
This thematic section examines the way games reflect and influence wider culture, including the debate over violence in games, the role of the independent game company and the influence of sport on games. Also explored are some of the key game developers in North America and Europe. Playable games include Tony Hawks - American Wasteland, Pro Evolution Soccer 6 and John Madden American Football. This section also investigates 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 include a version of Dragonball Z and SailorMoon.

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. Playable games in this section will include Warlords (played on the old Atari VCS) and Halo 3 (Microsoft).

Online Games and Machinima
This section explores the vibrant world of Online games and the communities which participate in them. A screening program allows visitors to experience online environments such as World of Warcraft and Second Life. Within this section will be a series of Machinima films created in game engines and shared online and visitors will be able to play Fury (Auran) - a major Australian online game.

Kids Games
The rich history of games designed for children is explored in this section. Playable games include Hey You! Pikachu (Nintendo 64), Cookie Monster Munch (Atari VCS), Bob the Builder (Sony PlayStation) and the recent Australian games Pony Friends (Nintendo DS) and Sonic X (Leapster). There will also be a display of hand-held games and a collection of portable gaming systems, including the Game Boy and MB Microvision.

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 (the Hedgehog) and Mario, is explored, and in particular, the role of their creators, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto (Mario) and Sega's Yuji Naka (Sonic).

The Making and Marketing of Games
The game design process from concept drawing to packaged product is examined in this section, focusing on some of the most important games of recent times: Grand Theft Auto (Rockstar Games), The Pokémon Phenomenon (GameFreak), The Sims (Maxis), Tomb Raider (Core Design) and Dragon's Lair (Don Bluth Studios). Each display includes never previously exhibited original character sketches and environmental designs.

Future Technology
A range of emerging technology and content trends are showcased, giving some indication of the shape that gaming may take over the next decade and will include Sony's Eyetoy and the revolutionary Nintendo Wii. Past visions of future technology including the Vectrex Imager and the Nintendo Powerglove will also be shown.

Ten top Australian Games
Exclusive to the Australian incarnation of Game On will be a special addition of the ten top videogames made in Australia. Among the highlights will be Puzzle Quest voted 2007 Game of the Year by the GDA (Games Developers Association); The Hobbit and The Way of the Exploding Fist, two titles from early 80s by Melbourne developer Beam Software (Melbourne House), and Krome Studios' international hit Ty the Tasmanian Tiger.

Game On Exhibition
Thursday 6 March - Sunday 13 July, 2008
ACMI Screen Gallery
Federation Square, Flinders Street, Melbourne
Tickets: Full $15 Concession $10 Family (2 Adults, 2 children) $44

Further information

Claire Butler
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2415 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 654
[email] claire.butler@acmi.net.au  
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