Be warned: enter Game Masters and you may become pulled into a vortex of thumb-twiddling intensity
On one level, ACMI's latest exhibition Game Masters is an important step towards video games receiving proper recognition as an important and valid form of art. On another, it’s pretty much THE GREATEST ARCADE EVER.
With over 125 playable video games, the exhibition includes some of the best and most important additions to the medium of the past 40 years. Including everything from Metal Gear Solid to the dreamy and beautiful Flower, the collection is as diverse and surprising as the industry itself. Each section of Game Masters focuses on a different developer and features not only playable games, but also information about the development process and biographies of the “game masters” themselves. Never-before-seen concept art and new video footage of developer commentary really make this a rewarding experience for existing gamers, while plenty of accessible casual games are sure to entertain those who are just along for a fun day out.
If you've grown up grinding, griefing and stomping goombas however, there will be a lot of familiar content here. Many of the games available are most likely sitting in your cupboard at home, leaving you with little motivation to take them up for a few minutes under the gaze of curious onlookers. Games that rely on extended play and immersion really suffer when begun out of context, and any game that has even the semblance of a storyline is rendered somewhat incomprehensible. This is where the collection of old arcade games, which are designed to be played sporadically, really shine. Classics like Space Invaders and Pac-Man, as well as lesser-known additions such as Gun Fight easily stand the test of time and are among the most popular of the exhibition.
In order to avoid the descending hordes of children it's probably best to wait until after school holidays to attend the Game Masters exhibition. Many of the games really need some time and consideration to appreciate, and the visitor experience is set to improve as the crowds thin out over the coming weeks. Make sure you also take the time to explore the independent games display on the way in. This little room contains some of the most beautiful and innovative things currently coming out of the industry and definitely should not be missed. The curators of Game Masters have put together an exhibition that will appeal to gamers of all ages and levels of experience. Whether discovering games for the first time or rediscovering sentimental favourites, it's time to gird your thumbs and descend the pipe!