A Special Exhibition:“GAME ON: Why are videogames so interesting?”

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Moving through Stages 1-8 and on to the NEXT Stage, visitors to the special exhibition Game On can experience video games from their embryonic period through to the present day while actually playing them.

Stage 1
"The Birth of Play" -- Computers and the New Entertainment

photo by Daici Ano

Video games were born alongside the computer. In 1951, an early computer was used to build software that could play checkers. 1962 marked the appearance of Space Wars, which is considered to be the father of modern video games. In 1971, video games made the leap from research labs into the general public with Computer Space: the world's first commercial arcade game. The following year witnessed the appearance of Pong, cementing the place of video games in the pantheon of new media.

Exhibit examples of this stage:
Pong (1972): The first truly famous video game
Lunar Lander (1979): A masterpiece among vector monitor games, with graphics drawn using lines alone
Donkey Kong (1981): The game in which Mario first appeared as a character

Stage 2
"Arcade Play" -- Video Game Arcades

photo by Daici Ano

The success of Pong triggered a deluge of new arcade games, beginning in America. For that point onward, arcade games began, earning a place in society.
The 1978 Japanese game Space Invaders became a huge phenomenon in Japan, and it wasn't long before college kids and adults alike were playing tabletop video games in non-arcade settings like cafes.

Exhibit examples of this stage:
Space Invaders (1978): The historic game that started a major social boom in Japan
Hang-On (1985): The first version of the motion-controlled arcade game developed by Sega
Street Fighter II (1991): A multiplayer fighting game that would attract large crowds of onlookers around the players in game centers

Stage 3
"Play Patterns" -- the Diversification and Evolution of Game Design

photo by Daici Ano

The rise of console systems gave birth to a variety of genres. These included role playing, adventure games, simulation games and puzzlers. Today, video games continue this trend of diversification.

Exhibit examples of this stage:
Pitfall! (1982), Gravity Rush (2015): Comparing these old and new hit action games provides an insight into their evolution over 30 years or so
Myst (1993): An adventure game with a unique perspective on the world and tricky puzzles to solve, which became popular across the globe

Stage 4 "Home Play" -- The Evolution of the Console

photo by Daici Ano

The ever-shrinking costs of computers. Led to a proliferation of video games, appearing in arcades, and as they got even cheaper console and PC games grew more and more widespread, video games escaped the confines of the arcade and hastily established themselves as part of domestic life. Stage 4 chronicles the evolution of video games during the golden age of console gaming.

Exhibit examples of this stage:
Nintendo Entertainment System (1983): The device that triggered the boom in home video game consoles
Electro Tennis (1975): Japan's first video game console is displayed with this game ready to play.

Stage 5
"Ubiquitous Play" -- Handheld Games and Kids


Early home console games were conceived of as educational tools for preschool children. They were meant to be "Edutainment". The introduction of wristwatch games and handheld consoles only served to strengthen the bond between children and video game culture. Stage 5 features a collection of educational games that can be played as a family and on handheld devices.

Exhibit examples of this stage:
Speak & Spell (1978): This educational toy, with what at the time was an advanced speech function, even appeared in the movie E.T.
Simon (1978): The most popular electronic memory game
Game & Watch (1980): All 60 models of this portable game with an LCD screen that was a global hit for Nintendo are exhibited here. Via the Game Boy, this is connected to today's smartphone games.

Stage 6
"The Art of Play" -- Music, Image, and Character Design in Video Games

photo by Daici Ano

Nowadays, video games assume the same production budgets, valuations, and personnel of any Hollywood movie. Video games are responsible for innumerable beloved characters, distinct musical cultures, movie spinoffs, and a myriad of other art and entertainment. Stage 6 provides a peek at the process of game production through early concept sketches, design roughs, marketing materials, and musical artifacts.

Exhibit examples of this stage:
Parappa the Rapper (1996), Space Channel 5 (1999): These two music video games are displayed together, highlighting their different approaches
- Sonic the Hedgehog sketches: Early sketches of world-famous video game character Sonic the Hedgehog. The design has hardly changed at all over the last 25 years.
- Dragon's Lair key frame cels: The unique graphics and gameplay of Dragon's Lair is created using animation technology of a similar quality to that used for Disney animations.
- Pokémon packages: Pokémon attracts fans by taking various forms, including movies, anime, manga, toys, and other products. These packages show how the series has developed

Stage 7
Make and Play-- Indie Games as Platforms


Increasingly easy access to cheap development environments has meant that, for the generation who grew up gaming, video games are things that one makes. While gaming had previously been thought of as an act of consumption, games had established gameplay as a creative and educational act, which stimulates players' artist urges.

Exhibit examples of this stage:
Minecraft (2014): A game in which players place blocks in the air or on the ground to make whatever shapes they choose

Stage 8
Collaborative Play--Communities and Multiplayer Games


With the spread of the internet, gaming has turned into something that can be enjoyed without the need for players to be in the same space. The scope, scale, and purview of games has been drastically altered, resulting in internationally beloved games. New physical interfaces, meanwhile, have brought families and friends together in the living room for a new casual style of gaming. Similarly, games hint at the ways the internet is beginning to connect the virtual with the real.

Exhibit examples of this stage:
World of Warcraft (2004): The game with the biggest online community in history
The Beatles: Rock Band (2009): The Beatles edition of this music video game. Players can experience performing and various simulations set to a soundtrack of songs by The Beatles.
Angry Birds (2009): Developed by Rovio of Finland. This symbolizes the smartphone age, with its social media sharing functions, variations on seasonal themes, and links to YouTube videos offering hints

Playing the Future
--Games as Reality, Reality as a Game


Advancements have led to internet ventures and VR technologies alike, and are beginning to blur the lines between the world of games and reality. In this section you will experience a series of projects that merge reality and play, providing a glimpse at things to come. Video games are already hinting at the next level of play as they forever alter notions of "reality" and "immersion."

Exhibit example of this stage:
PlayStation VR (2016)

"Why are Video Games so Interesting?" Columns


In front of Stages 1-6 are column displays on the theme Why are Video Games so Interesting? The monitors near the passageway examine the fascination of video games from various angles, while the cases on top of the monitors display items relating to video games.

Inside the cases on the monitors you will find various exhibits, including the CPUs (from the 4004 - the world's first microprocessor - to the latest 6th Generation Intel Core processor) that are the heart of game consoles, since they are a form of computer; recording media (from the punch cards of the 1970s to optical media); game console circuit boards (from the first PlayStation to the PlayStation4); video game magazines and strategy guides (including the very first issue of Famikom Tsushin magazine); today's popular Lego and small programmable computer kits (including Lego Mindstorms EV3 and IchigoJam), and equipment used in the TRPGs spawned by role-playing games. In between playing these games, take time to look at the game-related exhibits on and around the monitors and think about Why are Video Games so Interesting?

Special Exhibition