ACMI Game Masters Exhibitionby Daniel “nfgDan” Ryan
If gaming development or 50 years of gaming history is of any interest to you, don’t miss out on this exhibition. While exhibitions in the past have focused on the history of gaming or its influence on pop culture, Game Masters looks into the profiles of the developers and the impact they’ve had on the industry.
Putting a face to games or a series of games you love can give a deeper understanding of the work and talent behind them.
NFG went down to take a look and get our hands on some gaming history. After walking down the stairs to where the lights are dimmed we came across a room of retro arcade machines. From Space Invaders, Donkey Kong and Centipede to Asteroids, Shoot Out and Missile Command.
If you can tear yourself away from the flashing lights and blips of the arcade machines you may be drawn to the history of consoles laid out in front of you.
This set us off pointing at a Game Gear or an Atari system and reminising on games we used to play in our childhood. After a few minutes of wiping our drool from the display cases we wandered into the rest of the building. If you’re a fan of Hideo Kojima, take a look at Metal Gear Solid playable on a Playstation.
Seeing the difference between different generations side by side really shows how far gaming has come in the last few years. Particularly of note was the playable Team Ico games; Ico 2001, Shadow of the Colossus 2005 and Shadow of the Colossus HD 2011.
Around the exhibition are iPads with headphones if you are wanting to watch/listen to interviews with the featured developers. Tim Schafer (Psychonauts, Double Fine Adventure) and Warren Spector (Disney’s Epic Mickey, Thief series, Deus Ex) were present to kick off the event when it launched on the 28th June.
But fear not if you had missed out on meeting one of the Game Masters, Tetsuya Mizuguchi will visit ACMI on 20 and 21 September 2012. Game Masters features a display devoted to Mizuguchi’s creations, including playable versions of Sega Rally Championship, Space Channel 5, Rez and Lumines, as well as a large-scale immersive 3D version Child of Eden. We tried playing Child of Eden on both a normal screen and a giant projector 3D display, putting on those 3D glasses and shooting our way through the first level was a lot of fun, but I’m not convinced with 3D gaming just yet.
Much of ACMI’s exhibition is hands on and you’ll get the opportunity to see and play around with work from big names such as the Sonic Team (Sonic the Hedgehog), Blizzard (World of Warcraft, Diablo), Peter Molyneux (Populous, the Dungeon Keeper series and the Fable series), Will Wright (SimCity, The Sims) and Nintendo (Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda) just to name a few.
If some of the objectives and controls aren’t immediately apparent, or you’ve forgotten that Sonic is about running, jumping and spinning there is an instruction sheet next to each game. Or maybe you’ve just shouldered children out of the way to play Lego Batman: The Video Game and need some quick tips on how to Batman your way around a Lego universe.
Towards the back you’ll pass through the music and rhythm games that have been a huge part of gaming in the last years. Get strumming with Rockband – drag a friend into the booth and practice your metal faces. If your wanting to bust out the dancing moves there is the opportunity of Dance Central 2 with Kinect on the big screen.
As you move through the Game Masters Exhibition, while there are a lot of games to play, don’t forget to take in some of the artwork and design papers the developers have pulled out of storage. These extra pieces of gaming history help create a bigger picture within games.
If indie games are more your thing, there is a whole room devoted to the little guys; Halfbrick (Fruit Ninja, Raskulls), Marcus Persson “Notch” (Minecraft), Firemint “Firemonkeys” (Flight Control) and even some Masaya Matsuura (PaRappa the Rapper). We spent much of our time playing rhythm games on the available iPads but once we sat down to play Castle Crashers on an Xbox we didn’t really want to leave.
Then after you’re done seeing everything, you’ve got your hands on experience with those games from the past you loved or missed out on as a kid. Head back to the arcade area to get in some more retro action, the chip-tune music and sound effects have a siren song like embrace.
ACMI are currently offering a special deal on Fridays in August. With August retro-priced Fridays Tickets are only $10 from 10am to 10pm on (you guessed it) Fridays.
The ACMI Game Masters Exhibition is at Federation Square in the heart of the Melbourne CBD. You only have until October 28, to see the work of over 30 leading game designers or get hands on with over 125 playable games.
If you’re feeling nostalgic for retro gaming, take a look at our Childhood Video Game Memories article. For another event Non-Fiction Gaming has made an appearance at, check out the One More Thing developer conference.