Gaming is considered to be an art form of the age. It is a field that has virtually become one of the world’s most popular kinds of recreation. A field that frontiers creativity in artistry and technology, a field that may well become the predominant art form of the twenty-first century, as film was of the twentieth, as the novel was of the nineteenth.
An archaeological archive of digital gaming forms will be unearthed at the Powerhouse Museum, in a groundbreaking exhibition that celebrates the world’s video gaming. Game Masters is a comprehensive showcase of the most influential game-makers and game-making. It presents over 100 playable amusements, from the 1970s traditional penny arcade machines, to the consoles of Space Invaders, Super Mario Bros, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Sonic the Hedgehog, to large-scale interactive displays of the electronic gifted-present.
There are several valuable reasons to revisit a sense of play in these early gaming efforts. First, much of the early work is now inaccessible with the exception of long-time practitioners and collectors. These may appear to be unsophisticated efforts in comparison to the colourful and visceral productions of today, but this misunderstands the originality of those designers who worked without the benefit of historical models. In addition to coming up with the idea for a game, a designer had to understand computers and programming well enough to actualise the work. From this angle these works can be regarded as some of the most imaginative and inventive, even if they’re not as vivid or spectacular as their contemporary counterparts.
Displayed in three sections, Arcade of Heroes is a passage that explores the games created by the pioneering designers of the late 1970s and 1980s. The second, Game Changes, focuses on the most influential industry designers who have shaped the medium including Yuji Maka and the Sonic Team, Nintendo, Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft and Paulina Bozek’s SingStar. Indies, the third portal, features the independently produced games that have paved the way for how we experience the act of play.
Games should provide at least the illusion of free will to players. The players should feel that they have freedom of action within the structure of a game. It is within our end-of-year holidays when we neck-back to reflect on efforts past, that we can then angle forward towards redefining ourselves, to further develop new tooling ideas and regenerate our many and varying artistic interests.
In 2014 be sure to bring a little play and mastery to your gaming of life. (AS)
Game Masters, until May 25, Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris St, Ultimo, $15-59 (includes general admission), powerhousemuseum.com
BY ANGELA STRETCH