V&A Dundee’s next major exhibition, Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt, is set to open next week.
It celebrates the very best of international digital creativity with a series of new commissions and special events showcasing videogame design from Scotland and around the world.
The new exhibition will run from 20 April to 8 September.
Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt is the first exhibition to fully consider the complexity of videogames as one of the most important design fields of our time.
Today there are an estimated 2.2 billion people who play videogames worldwide, from commuters playing on mobile phones to eSports professionals watched by tens of thousands of spectators.
The exhibition focuses on videogames designed and developed since the mid-2000s when major technological advancements transformed the way games are designed, discussed and played. From multi-million-dollar blockbuster titles to smaller independent games and the work of DIY artists from a hacker/maker culture, the exhibition explores current international debates as well as the creative contributions made to game culture by the players themselves.
V&A Dundee is opening up the museum and inviting designers to celebrate the best of videogame design. The exhibition includes a major new commission from Glasgow-based illustrator Ursula Kam-Ling Cheng, who is creating a colourful and chaotic mural inspired by virtual worlds.
Videogames designed by Abertay University lecturer Niall Moody (Hummingbird) and Abertay graduate Llaura McGee (If Found, Please Return by Dreamfeel) are to be showcased in the DIY arcade section. The games will be housed in bespoke arcade cabinets designed by Edinburgh studio We Throw Switches.
Highlights of the exhibition include notebooks from the director of The Last of Us and original sketches from the designers of Bloodborne, alongside the digital prototypes that formed the foundation of Journey; games challenging issues of discrimination, identity and sexuality; a spectacular video wall showing how huge online communities create and play together, from Minecraft to Overwatch; and a ‘DIY arcade’ where a range of experimental games from around the world will be available to play.
V&A Dundee is also working with We Throw Switches to create a one-off Tay Late event on the evening of Saturday 18 May.
The Tay Late will showcase the very latest Scottish and international design creativity with multiplayer party games and unique playable experiences.
To accompany the exhibition, the museum has commissioned a new videogame that will be developed alongside the exhibition. Visitors will be able to try an early version of the game, Plaything, and help inform its final development at a free Family Design Day on Saturday 8 June.
Philip Long, director of V&A Dundee, said: ‘Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt is a remarkable second exhibition for V&A Dundee, which celebrates and explores how digital creativity and technology have shifted from the mid-2000s to the present day.
‘The exhibition shows how a wonderful range of creativity is involved in making a videogame, from hand-drawn sketches, to the design of characters, environments and music. Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt also importantly looks at how games explore complex issues, and how designers are challenging discrimination and damaging social stereotypes.
‘Videogames are for everyone, and anyone with an interest in creativity, design and fun will enjoy this exhibition. We want everyone to get involved – from the Family Design Day to our next Tay Late – with making and playing videogames.’
Marie Foulston, lead exhibition curator and V&A Curator of Videogames, said: ‘Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt seeks to open up the design and culture of contemporary game design and culture in radical new ways. It celebrates a period of time that has been defined by a democratisation of both the means to make and to play games.
‘It’s a time of new voices and new ideas that have pushed boundaries and challenged our perceptions of what videogames are and what they can be.
‘It’s both incredibly exciting and a real honour for this exhibition to be opening at V&A Dundee, in a city with such a legacy for groundbreaking videogame design. Whether you come as a local game designer, a seasoned player or are simply creatively curious then I hope you find something new, intriguing and unexpected.’
Llaura McGee, designer of If Found, Please Return, said: ‘I’m thrilled that If Found, Please Return is going to be part of the Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt exhibition, and for the public to see the passionate, fascinating and often strange side of videogames I know.
‘If Found, Please Return, a game where you erase the diaries of an Irish woman to forget her memories, is the last thing you’d expect to find in a videogame arcade so it’s the perfect game to showcase the new forms of game culture happening around the world.
‘Bringing If Found, Please Return to Dundee means a lot in particular as I spent many years studying and working here, and it’s where my career in game design began. It will also be one of the first times I’ve played a game of my own inside an arcade cabinet, so I can’t wait!’
Dundee has a thriving videogame design community, centred around Abertay University which launched the world’s first degree in Computer Games Technology in the 1990s. Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto were both created in Dundee, while today the city produces the console versions of Minecraft at 4J Studios.
Abertay University is also leading InGAME, a games innovation partnership which is supporting the development of Plaything, V&A Dundee’s first videogames commission.
Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt was curated by Marie Foulston, V&A Curator of Videogames and Kristian Volsing, V&A Research Curator, and shown at V&A South Kensington from 8 September 2018 to 24 February 2019.
Tickets are available now at www.vam.ac.uk/dundee/videogames