VIDEOGAMES: DESIGN/PLAY/DISRUPT | London, V&A

There’s no Mario Kart, Candy Crush or any superhero games here. This engrossing, thought-provoking exhibition focuses on video game design by looking at the case studies of some pretty wacky examples, famous for breaking the mould of what we might expect a video game to be, including Tale of Tales’ The Graveyard and thatgamecompany’s Journey.

At the heart of the exhibition is a 20-minute talking-heads film on a giant screen, where leading academics, advocates, commentators and game designers discuss some of the social and political debates around video games, including the notoriously unbalanced depiction of women and people of colour. Commissioned by the V&A for this exhibition, this film is definitely worth watching in its entirety, and is, if anything, too short.

However, there’s also plenty of room for the mainstream. Nintendo’s kid-friendly online multiplayer Splatoon has its own section on design and merchandise, while blockbuster Minecraft, the second best-selling video game of all time (behind Tetris), is featured in another cinema room.

The exhibition is inventive, aesthetic and discursive, but it’s not really interactive. At the very end of the exhibition, a makeshift arcade is presented, filled with new, indie, retro-inspired games, including the text-based Queers In Love At The End Of The World, and a car simulator made out of a real car. Spend an hour in here and you will never look at video games the same way again.

Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt is booking until 24 February 2019.

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