A Day Out At The National Video Game Museum
Fun days out and video games
Ostensibly, I write articles about video games here. (However if you ever catch me calling myself a “Games Journalist” I want you to shoot me).
This Christmas I made the conscious choice to not bring my controller with me when I went home for the holidays, with the intent to not waste all my time playing Halo.
Instead, I resolved to spend time with friends and family over the festive break.
So naturally we went to the national video game museum in Sheffield.
Now, I think even a few people who enjoy gaming are going to wonder why a national video game museum even exists. That’s honestly, understandable to me, I love video games but I never really considered them something that had cultural or historic value. The museum even addresses this, informing us that games are part of our heritage and showcased technological and cultural shifts as society went on. And in terms of physical media many older consoles are in short supply, either not existing or not in working condition. That last bit especially struck me as I’ve seen so many episodes of retro game reviews where they’ve had to go through three or four different consoles until they can find one that works.
There were whole displays about attempts to crack down on game piracy, items from video game tie-ins and promotions, some beautiful art books from Half-Life 2 and Zelda, a showcase on how virtual reality had developed over the years, and a whole screen full of Donkey Kong games all running different versions on different systems. Now, if I’d been on my own, I would have gone around carefully examining every article and every display case because genuinely cracking video game codes and safeguards is absolutely fascinating to me.
Side note, because I won’t get a chance to say it later in the article, but it’s somewhat surreal to actually see a Virtual Boy or an Aladdin Deck Enhancer after only seeing reviews for them on Angry Video Game Nerd. I think that for a lot of people my age, older video game ancillaries, and indeed a lot of older video games, have a bit of a mythic or legendary quality to them. This was the first time I’d ever seen an actual copy of Duck Hunt, this was the first time I’d actually been able to play Duck Hunt! Unrelated, but the three of us got the high score on it when we played.
In fact it was playing the original Duck Hunt that I realised one of the things that I loved about this museum: you get a chance to do the things with games you never got to.
For some people that’s playing games that came and went before they were old enough to play them like Sonic Adventure 2, the original Tetris (on an old-fashioned arcade console no-less), or the original duck hunt like we did. There’s other games there too, artsy ones like Fru (where one player uses a kinect to manipulate the environment with their silhouette), or party games like Ultimate Chicken Horse (where you and your friends try to hinder each other from completing a platformer course).
But there were other things as well, I’ve talked about the arcade machines, which in my experience are getting less and less common. There were a few more modern ones (but my friend pointed out that one of these more modern ones, a helicopter shooter who’s name I don’t recall, featured a very 90’s advert against drug use) but the vast majority were the old-school arcade cabinets you barely see anymore.
As well as the games on older consoles like the NES and it’s successor the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, there were a few systems and games I had played but adapted. I think this might be the only place I’ve ever seen a Play Station One set up to have sixteen players on Micro-Machines!
So if you’re in Sheffield, have a few friends, and want to challenge them to a game or a few, then pop on over to the Video Game Museum. You may even be able to play four player pac-man ...