{Germany} Game Over?

March 15, 2013

Germany

Like most parents of young children, one thing we really miss about our old life is the chance for a good old lie in. So the husband and I take it in turns at the weekends to give each other the gift  of an extra hour or two in bed whilst the other one of us entertains #MuseumBaby. A couple of weeks ago, I caught my boys playing Mario Kart Wii when I came through to join them. They didn’t even notice I was there (“When did you take that photo?” the husband later asked me). I’m not sure we should be fuelling #MuseumBaby’s obsession with cars any further, but one thing was definitely clear – it was time to take our family off on a visit to Berlin’s Computerspielemuseum!

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The Computerspielemuseum claims to be Europe’s first and only museum for video and computer games, with over 300 exhibits including rare originals, playable classics and digital art works. At the entrance visitors are greeted by life size figures from popular games, as they enter their historical journey to explore the world of the “homo ludens digitalis”. As the museum says on its website, “We cordially invite you to join an entertaining time travel presenting the theme of Mankind at play in the 21st century.”

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The museum’s permanent exhibition, “Computer Games – Evolution of a Medium”, covers the cultural history of compuer games from their pre-digital roots to the virtual play environments of today. As well as major milestones in the invention and development of computer games, the museum also addresses questions about the significance of play and games for our culture, going as far back as the Olympic athletes of ancient Greece.

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But we quickly move forward in time, through the history of role play games such as Dungeons & Dragons, the very first chess playing machines and slot machines, to the invention of moving images and film which brought game playing in to a whole new era. Important gaming milestones get a mention, such as the invention of home computers or the ‘birth’ of Pac Man, and die hard fans can geek out over the “Wall of Hardware”.

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The husband was very excited to discover his very first computer – a ZX81 – on display, and I promised him to include a picture of it in this post (see below) ;-)

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Once you have finished geeking out, it’s time to play! There’s a host of games and interactive installations to try out, covering all aspects of computer game history and development, including virtual spaces and the design of visible game environments, digital sounds and computer game soundtracks, rhythm and body control, and games that involve seeing, listening, interacting, narrating.

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Here are father and son having some classic bonding time – look familiar to the first picture?

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One of the highlights for me were the classic arcade games, which seemed popular with all visitors from the youngest to the oldest. I observed one lady, who was probably in her late sixties, who could hardly tear herself away from Space Invaders, and a father and son duo who monopolised Gauntlet for pretty much our entire visit. Donkey Kong was fair game though, so you know where you could find me!

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Actually, I probably spent most time on the dance pad, partly due to the fact that whilst I was testing it out, #MuseumBaby discovered that it was his next favourite thing – but only dancing together with his Mama. Let me tell you, jumping around in time to Gloria Gaynor whilst stemming my 12kg heavy offspring was no easy feat!

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Another really cool feature was the giant joystick which, as the museum so nicely puts it, is “not something you can operate with your pinkie”. But climbing up alongside it to fully embrace the interactive experience – and embracing it is about the only way you’re gonna get that joystick to do what you want – it absolutely allowed, as long as you take off your shoes.

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The exhibition concludes with a look at online gaming and the global village. Did you know that South Korea has the highest percentage of internet connections per capita followed by Japan, with North America in third place. Some more information on how games are produced – including educational games and simulators – as well as a nod to the impact of gaming on health and addiction, rounds off the story.

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Whether you’re a die hard computer game fan or just enjoy the occasional round (or two, or three) of Mario Kart, the Computerspielemuseum offers something a little different and it’s well advised to give yourself at least a couple of hours. At this museum it’s definitely not game over, but game on!

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6 Responses to “{Germany} Game Over?”

  1. Rosa Paula Says:

    My boys would love this place!
    I wanted to let you know that I featured the Museum Diary on my blog list today.
    It’s on my blog.
    Have a lovely weekend!

    Reply

  2. Leah / Super Starling! Says:

    Oh my swashbuckle. I yearn, more than anything, to visit this place. Europe has so many amazing opportunities! This is a great post.

    Reply

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