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  • Matt Codd

The Art of Play: The National Videogame Museum’s celebration of the beauty behind the games

Photography provided by The National Videogame Museum.

Since its opening in 2018, The National Videogame Museum has become cultural focal point for Sheffield. A shining example of the Steel City’s commitment to standing out across the UK, NVM is a unique venue, the only museum in the country to celebrating the magic of videogames. Since opening, the museum has played host to a huge variety of exhibitions, or bundles as they are aptly called. Highlights include a Made in Sheffield Bundle alongside showcases and retrospectives on a variety of the most-loved games in history.

Now, for Autumn 2022, the museum welcomes its newest exhibition. The Art of Play promises to take viewers “behind the screens” to exhibit the talent and creativity behind 5 of the UKs highest quality productions.

So much credence is given to a game’s graphical fidelity and story both in the lead up to, and following, a release that it is easy to underestimate and forget the number of stages these productions go through before reaching that point. The Art of Play exhibition aims to celebrate the concept and thought that goes into the early stages of development, often with no guarantee that these ideas will ever see the light of day.

The games featured in the exhibit include Monument Valley, Lumino City and No Longer Home. Classics like the Dizzy series and Yorkshire’s very own Worms are also key focal points of the showcase. By combining playable videogames with the concept art and inspirations behind them, the exhibit creates a tangible, immersive, and thought-provoking display

Screenshots provided (in order of appearance) by Ustwo Games, State of Play Games and Humble Grove Studios.

In a heavily digital medium, in an increasingly digital world, The Art of Play instead chooses to emphasise the hand-crafted, traditional elements of videogame production. Through curated interviews and conversations with UK-based studios, it takes the viewer on a deep dive into the process with an incredible collection of illustrations, notebooks, and models. It promises to be an exhibition like no other, an unfiltered look at the unseen work behind some of our favourite games. Alongside these concepts, a series of rarely seen objects will be on display: including an Amiga 4000 computer (on loan from the US) and a hand-drawn map, created by the Oliver Twins in 1989, of the “Fantasy World Dizzy”.

Map courtesy of The Oliver Twins.

The Art of Play exhibit is part of the wider assortment of “Living Collections”; a collection of interviews conducted and supported by Arts Council England. Of the collection, a curator of the museum, Dr. Michael Pennington, said “through this exhibition (and the support of Art Fund) we are able to celebrate videogame art as art, and explore how game developers use traditional techniques to produce stunning and contemporary interactive artworks.”

The wondrous display opens to the public on Friday 14th October, it is guaranteed to be an unmissable opportunity for videogame lovers, and casuals, alike. The National Videogame Museum is a must-visit in this city, and this exhibit only elevates its stature in our view.

Photography provided by The National Videogame Museum.


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