Game of Life
In the world of videogaming there was a real “At last!” moment reached in 2018 when Rockstar Games released their magnum opus ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’. Set in 1899 in a fictionalised version of the Western, Midwestern and Southern United States, the story centred on a bunch of outlaws who were trying to make their way in the world while the Wild West was in decline. But the reason gamers were punching the air with delight wasn’t because of the immersive storyline or innovative combat system. It was because of the game’s faithfully rendered equine physics, with particular regard to testicles. Yep, the game was so realistic that when you rode your horse into a snowy climate, its balls shrank. You definitely didn’t get that with Donkey Kong.
But let those incredible shrinking testicles stand as an inverse metaphor (bear with me) for the massive growth in the level of detail found in videogames these days. Personally I’m not entirely on board with all these innovations and attempts to make worlds even more immersive. I shied away from ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ mainly because I didn’t want to wade through 70+ hours of a game in which I was required to do mundane tasks like get my hair cut. (I still feel scarred by playing the Sega game ‘Shenmue’ back in the early 2000s, in which my character was sidelined from his quest to avenge the death of his father, by having to get a job as a forklift truck driver.)
I prefer games that don’t try to replicate real life, titles such as Mario and Tetris, which could only ever exist as games and nothing else. (Anyone remember the original Super Monkey Ball? One of most joyous, maddening, pick-up-and-play titles of all time. I still have nightmares about Advanced Level 17.)
‘Game On 2.0’ will celebrate the great and the good of the videogame world, from wow-inducing immersive worlds to some of the real breakthrough titles of yore. The exhibition will be reaching right back into the archives to explore the past five decades of gaming through more than 150 playable games (150!) including the aforementioned Tetris, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary of block-rocking fun this year. And that’s just one of the many notable videogame anniversaries in 2019 as Minecraft, Angry Birds and Wii Sports Resort all celebrate their 10th birthday.
Visitors to ‘Game On 2.0’ will be able to play all of these games, as well as explore the history, culture and future of gaming.
Linda Conlon, Chief Executive of Life, said: “The north-east is a dominant force in the UK gaming industry and we’re excited to host ‘Game On 2.0’ to help inspire the next generation of developers in the region.
“It [‘Game On’ from 2015] was one of the most popular exhibitions ever held at Life, and with lots of new additions to the long list of games that visitors can play, I’m confident that this reboot will be even more in demand.”
In addition to playing videogames from the past five decades – including a chance to live out your rock star dreams in Rock Band 3 – visitors can also explore the latest developments in gaming, including how virtual reality is creating ever-more immersive gaming experiences.
Neil McConnon, Head of Barbican International Enterprises, said: “Gaming has been a vital ingredient in the north-east’s culture and industry since Pong and Space Invaders first arrived in the UK. We are very pleased to bring the updated ‘Game On 2.0’ exhibition back to Life Science Centre and share the history and future of gaming with generations of fans, new and old.”
Anyone visiting ‘Game On 2.0’ should also know that admission to the show will also allow you to check out the rest of the Life Science Centre. Highlights here include ‘Alien Worlds’ in the planetarium, the new Science Theatre show ‘Super Hero Science’ and the thrilling 4D motion ride ‘Ravine Race’.
You will definitely see Mario, Sonic and Donkey Kong at the exhibition but we can’t guarantee realistically shrinking testicles. When all is said and done, this is a very family friendly show after all.Game On 2.0, 25 May-4 September, Life Science Centre, Times Square, Newcastle. For ticket details (including family tickets) and opening times visit: life.org.uk