On Sunday, I went to the Videogames exhibition called “Design/Play/Disrupt” currently on at the V&A with my friend S and her work friend M. I thought I would blog about it. Honestly, I wasn’t really expecting much because one of my friends told me it was crap. It didn’t show any games that they have ever heard of and so they weren’t interested as they couldn’t relate. I went in with low expectations only to find it was AMAZING. We spent about 3-4 hours in there and it wasn’t even that big!

First Section – Concept, Research, Testing

As you enter it had quite a few well known PS4 games playing on a projector with posters and imagery (probably to get you warmed up). It talked about how gamers liked the fact it was challenging and the psychology behind why it was successful. It showed you the progress, the 3D imagery, sketchbooks, how the idea was conceived, researched and the prototypes. It was really interesting because you got to delve into the mind of the creators. I’ve always been interested in how the mind works; how does creativity fester, where does it come from and how do people draw the inspiration and turn it into something someone else can enjoy?  I considered going to the exhibit again but then I would have to pay for another ticket – nahhhh lol.

Splatoon – Nintendo Switch

We came across a section for Splatoon as well which S was getting super hyped about – she’s such a neek about these things LOL. It’s a game where you play these cute looking characters running around with ray guns shooting out paint splats at each other lol.

Journey Game – PS4

There was a big screen with Journey playing and S explained to us what Journey was. She is so articulate that she makes EVERYTHING sound interesting and she can hook you into anything – she needs to get a commission on all the things she’s got me interested in. Journey is this game where a silent girl flies around a desert and she has tickets for her tail and she picks up more tickets and it’s actually quite beautiful. There’s no violence, the music is serene, the landscape is very picturesque and vast, an,d in all it’s just an aesthetically pleasing game. They showed you the research and the test runs through a desert and then the prototype of the game with running commentary (that was kinda funny). It reminds me a bit of Monument Valley which has a similar vibe; a silent girl running around beautiful scenic landscapes and buildings. She told me Journey was published by Annapurna Interactive who published a couple of other games I have heard about from the girls at work. There was another game who Annapurna also publish that was showcased called Kentucky Route Zero which S and I found out we had come across in a talk we went to about 2 years ago about the Fonts used in games. Kentucky Route Zero is this super beautiful point and click adventure game that you can get on steam. It’s set mostly at night (it’s dark) and the graphics are amazing. What’s different about it is that it uses text as dialogue instead of audio which is why it appeared in the Fonts in Gaming talk we went to. Everything about it is super peaceful and calming too as even when still the characters and props have a slight sway to them.

 

Splatoon Ninetendo
Splatoon Ninetendo

Second Section – Indie Games

The next section contained more indie games. My favourite ones were by this artist called Jenny Hsia. All of her games were mobile APP-esque and very cutesy. They were mostly in pinks, pastel, feminine colours and used kawaii style imagery. What was powerful about her games were the underlying messages she was trying to express which was her struggles with her eating disorder, body dysmorphia and her body image. She had partially turned her issues into games which were a really powerful way to express her deep-rooted insecurities and let it out. I also loved the fact she created them from start to finish; coming up with the idea, designing in photoshop and eventually producing the games in Unity (it’s not easy!!!). I thought it was very brave of her to show so much of herself but I also thought some of her games were a bit TOO much for example there was one that you would try to make the character “throw up” after meals to emulate her bulimic state – I don’t think it’s promoting this health issue in a way that you take seriously. Maybe it was done for shock value but if you are playing it as though it’s a game you make it more surreal than real.

Jenny Jiao Hisa Games
Jenny Jiao Hisa Games

There were also videos of people from the industry highlighting important topics in gaming such as violence, racism, sexism, LGBTQ representations and all sorts. They would talk about their views on such subjects – it was really engaging to hear different people’s point of views across all diff subject matters.

The Final Room – Indie Arcade Games

The last section was a bigger room filled with indie arcade stations. There was this game called QWOP which apparently got popular via youtube. Each key moves each limb and you have to try and get the athlete to run and get to the finish line. IT IS NOT as easy as it sounds. We saw some Grandma playing away like proper intense for 15 minutes concentrating on trying to get this dude who was just kinda having a fit down the running track towards the finish line LOL. It was jokes. There was another one was called Envirobear where you had similar different keys to press to drive this crazy car with a bear in it and catch fish and fill up the car with random stuff you caught on the way – bit mental!

QWOP Indie Running Game Arcade Machine
QWOP Indie Running Game Arcade

The exhibitions at the V&A are usually really good. They’re pricey but if you have a student discount card you can save quite a bit! I highly recommend going if you haven’t gone. You still have time as it ends 24th February.

It’s inspired me to go home to my mum’s and grab my ps3. That way I can play with it connected to my huge projector!

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