Visitors to Australia’s bush capital Canberra over the next six months will be able to dabble in some 80 classic video games, from ‘Pac-Man’ and ‘Donkey Kong’ to ‘Angry Birds’ and ‘Minecraft.’
The city’s National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) is to host Game Masters: The Exhibition, a touring annual exhibition that aims to showcase five decades of video game history, including vintage consoles and original arcade machines.
At your disposal are 10 classic arcade games, including ‘Gun Fight’ (1975) and ‘Space Invaders’ (1978), both by legendary designer Tomohiro Nishikado; ‘Pac-Man’ (1980), designed by Toru Iwatani; ‘Donkey Kong’ (1981), designed by Shigeru Miyamoto of ‘Zelda’ fame; and ‘Defender’ (1981), designed by Eugene Jarvis.
Will Wright’s legacy shines in three of the Sims available to play: ‘SimCity’ (1989) and ‘SimCity 2000’ (1993), both open-ended city-building simulation games; and ‘The Sims 3’ (2009), a life simulation game.
More recent games on offer include ‘Angry Birds’ (2009), the first touchscreen-based mobile game to go viral with some 300 million players, designed by Rovio; and ‘MineCraft’ (2011), currently one of the most popular video games all round, designed by Markus Persson.
The touring exhibition was created and curated in 2012 by Melbourne-based Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). It has already been to eight countries, including the United States and Germany.
“When it was released, ‘Space Invaders’ was so popular in Japan there was a shortage of coins,” says Fiona Trigg, a senior ACMI curator.
But a US$13 ticket means you do not have to worry about running out of coins. You can play as many games for as long as you want. For those aged between 5 and 17, entry is just 12 dollars.
Jan Muller, the chief executive of the NFSA, calls the exhibition “a must-see experience.” He expects up to 50,000 visitors to attend the show, which runs from September 27 until March 2020.
Australia’s film and sound archive, which has more than three million items, has also announced that it will start to collect video games in a bid to preserve history.
“We are the custodians of the audio-video medium. It would be impossible to preserve history without new media content, including video games, web video clips and virtual reality,” says Muller.
Eight historically or culturally significant Australian video games have been chosen, including ‘The Hobbit’ (1982), an illustrated text adventure computer game by Beam Software based on the book with the same name by JRR Tolkien. – dpa