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  • Georgina Mayhew

The National Videogame Museum’s Fast Travel exhibition: A perfect rainy-day escape


It would be fair to say this summer has been something of a washout for the most part. If you’ve been stuck for something to do on the seemingly relentless rainy days of late, then look no further because Sheffield’s National Videogame Museum has got you (literally) covered. Whether you’re looking for a way to keep the kids entertained, a place to hang out with friends, or you have a couple of hours to kill on your own, the museum welcomes everyone to play and explore their astounding videogame collection.


This summer, the National Videogame Museum is taking visitors on a journey through places familiar and far away, real and imagined, through their latest exhibition: Fast Travel. Emulating a tube line system, Fast Travel gives visitors the option to scout out specific games, or explore three well-signposted gallery trails.


The Fast Travel map is well-marked throughout the museum to help you explore their diverse range of videogames. Photo: Georgina Mayhew.

The ‘Local Line’ (blue) will walk you past games created in and around Sheffield, including Boneloaf’s hilarious, and ruthless, Gang Beasts (Sheffield), Sumo Digital’s Sackboy: A Big Adventure (Sheffield), and Team 17’s Worms (Wakefield).


The ‘Real World’ line (green) showcases videogames with real world scenery and exploration, including SimCity 2000 and the 1998 action-adventure classic Jurassic Park: Trespasser.


Finally, take the ‘Out of This World’ line (pink) to visit otherworldly places, like the stunning puzzle games Lumino City and Monument Valley (there is also a fascinating section of the museum, the ‘Art of Play’ collection, where you can see some of the models which inspired the Lumino City gameplay).


The National Videogame Museum’s ‘Art of Play’ collection showcases replicas of some of the models which inspired games like the popular puzzle adventure game Lumino City. Photo: Georgina Mayhew.

The National Videogame Museum is open every day from 10am. Until 3rd September you can visit the Fast Travel exhibition for yourself – and discover real-life reconstructions and games that will take you out of this world.


The Fast Travel programme of activities also includes the opportunity to craft buildings and design landscapes to contribute to a giant ‘World Building’ map every day and, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, children and adults alike will have the opportunity to program a mini robot. Design a route to traverse coded trails to make the robot move, twirl and even change colour!


Also on display and worth looking out for is ‘Other Places’, a screened exhibition of short films exploring the beauty of videogame environments by journalist, author and photographer, Andy Kelly. Some of the most iconic videogame landscapes are exhibited, from Red Dead Redemption, Assassin’s Creed and Grand Theft Auto – allowing an age-appropriate appreciation of beautiful scenery and artistry (without the squashed GTA pensioners).


Videogames (and certainly the term ‘gamer’) can conjure a very specific stereotype – the hooded teenage boy locked up in his bedroom playing Call of Duty is the familiar trope – and it’s a stereotype that the staff at the National Videogame Museum want to challenge. Christian Beckett, Marketing and Communications Officer at the museum, tells us that he wants everyone to feel included and able to call themselves a gamer – from kids that play Mario Kart, to mums that like to wind down with Candy Crush.


The staff here are welcoming, knowledgeable and so passionate about what they do – their enthusiasm is infectious and sure to put you as ease. A new member of staff, Jane, approached me with those few words that exposes anyone desperate to share a love for their passion - “Okay, I just have to show you this one thing!” – and proceeded to show me some of the museum’s most interesting display cabinets, and the stories behind them. This included a reduced-power PS2 marketed at young girls (in baby pink of course, sigh) which ended up being a colossal failure because the developers had underestimated the diversity of the videogames young girls wanted to play, and (“Let me just show you one more thing!”) one of the earliest Nintendo game consoles marketed as a whole-family activity – complete with a totally redundant red button for toddlers to play with!


The museum takes care to make itself as inclusive as possible, and their accessibility facilities include everything from being wheelchair accessible, providing ear defenders for those with audio sensitivities, and welcoming guide, assistance and companion animals (please visit their website for more information).


Staff at the National Videogame Museum are passionate about making videogames and their venue as inclusive as possible, so everyone can play and explore. Photo: National Videogame Museum.

Walking around the museum and feeling a rush of nostalgia, and joy at seeing the excitement of young kids around you, is a testament to the brilliant curation of videogames here – as well as a reminder of the beauty that videogames give us – a chance to explore, play and escape, and create happy memories for years to come.


Open every day from 10am between the 22nd July and 3rd September, visitors can discover locally made videogames, impressive real-life reconstructions and games that will take them out of this world through the Fast Travel exhibition You can find out more information about visiting the museum and making a booking via their Admissions page.


The NVM is run by the BGI, a registered charity that educates the public about the art, science, history, and technology of videogames. The Museum has welcomed over 250,000 visitors, including hundreds of school visits, since it opened in Sheffield in 2018.

For more details about the NVM, please visit: http://www.thenvm.org.

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