It seems to me that we seldom examine the impact video gaming has had on our lives. And why would we? Many of us cannot recall a time when video games did not exist. Needless to say, my first memory of a video game is Super Mario Bros. for NES. When I consider how fantastic I thought that game was in it?s time ? and it still is today ? it becomes apparent that the gaming industry has evolved into a true force to be reckoned with.
In fact, it has had such an impact that the Museum of Science and Industry, which is situated in Chicago, is currently the proud host of Game On – a look into the past, present and future of video games.
Jean Franczyk, the Museum?s vice president of education and guest services says ?many children today have grown up with video games, but now they have a chance to learn about the history, science, art and technology that is behind those games.?
Game on is comprised of 16 areas, appropriately called levels, exploring everything you could imagine related to video games; think of it as something cool in a nerdy sort of way or vice-versa.
For topics such as technology and design, the information spans the massive computers of the early 1960?s to the consoles of today. From the very first level a trip is taken back in time to look into Spacewar! Interestingly enough, this was the first game developed on computer for use with a vector monitor (vector displays were capable of showing a shape?s outline only). Heck, they?ve even got arcade hits such as the mother of all classics, Pong, as well as Space Invaders, Donkey Kong and Galaga.
One aspect that really caught my attention would definitely have to be the exhibit?s exploration of the relationship between culture and video games ? specifically, the individual influences that have come from North American, European and Japanese markets. After all, Mario is huge here, but in Japan he?s Mickey Mouse.
The ninth level, sound, offers more than 50 gaming tracks and plenty of attention is given to the showcasing of bands in video games and the incorporation of film composers; an expanding and very modern trend of the day.
The only sad part of the exhibit is the fact that there aren?t any playable games?oh, wait there are:
Donkey Kong Jr.
Space Invaders (table game)
Space Invaders ? Part II
Space Invaders ? Part II (table game)
Freeway ? Atari 2600 (1977)
Uridium ? Commodore 64 (1982)
Manic Miner ? Sinclair Spectrum (1982)
Mario Bros. ? Nintendo Famicon (NES) (1983)
MSX game collection ? Spectravideo SV1-318
Lemmings ? Commodore Amiga (1987)
Fighting Street ? NEC PC Engine (1987)
Tetris ? Nintendo Gameboy (1989)
Ridge Racer ? Sony Playstation (1994)
Virtual Tennis 2
Mario Kart Double Dash
Grand Turismo 3
Project Gotham Racing
Bust A Move 4
Final Fantasy VI
Hitchhiker?s Guide to the Galaxy
The Secret of Monkey Island
Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Super Mario Kart
Super Buster Bros.
Parappa the Rapper 2
Super Monkeyball 2
Gradius Deluxe Pack
Street Fighter 2 Turbo
Virtual Fighter 2
Garou: Mark of the Wolves
Pokemon Stadium 2
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Jak and Daxter
Burnout 3: Takedown
Championship Manager 2001/2002
NBA Jam: Tournament
Pro Evolution Soccer 4
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3
Dragon Ball Z: Budokai
Samurai Warriors Xtreme Legends
Densha de Go! Shinkansen
Dance Stage Party
Sonic Mega Collection
Mario All Stars
Bob the Builder
Cookie Monster Munch
Hey you, Pikachu 2
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Chillingham (game for the blind)
Space Channel 5
NBA Street Vol. 2
Golden Tee LIVE
SpongeBob Squarepants 3D Obstacle Odyssey
Star Wars Rogue Leader
Discs of Tron (arcade game)
Star Wars (arcade game)
Sonic Mega Collection
Super Mario All-Stars
- by the way tickets are $5 American.
It would seem that my column has turned into an advertisement for this exhibit and I?ll admit, in many ways, it has. But the reason why this caught my attention is because it takes video games in a very positive direction.
As I may or may not have mentioned before I have a ten-year-old brother who eats, sleeps and breathes video games and I do grow very concerned sometimes that he may be rotting his mind, putting in the amount of hours he does. Thus, it?s nice to see an exhibit that teaches children to appreciate the sound, art, engineering and creativity that goes into video games and in essence, turns something kids love into something educational.
Game on runs through Sept. 5, 2005.