PREVIEW: Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt, Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum has confirmed details of its Autumn exhibition, on display from the 8th September. 

Arcade Backpack , UCLA Games Lab. Photograph by Robin Baumgarten.

In its exhibition, the V&A will explore how contemporary  designers, players and critics are pushing boundaries in videogames in radical new ways in this first exhibition of its kind.

This new display will offer visitors a glimpse into the creative process of developing games such as The Last of Us to Kentucky Route Zero, including original prototypes, early character designs and notebooks, which will be shown alongside cultural inspiration from a Magritte painting to a viral cat video.

Including a mixture of big names produced by leading studios such as Splatoon from Nintendo, to independents such as Journey by thatgamecompany, Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt will highlight the craft and skill that goes into video game design.

Much of the display will concentrate on video game design from the the mid-2000s, when major technological advancements, such as increased access to broadband, social media and newly available means of making, transformed the way games are designed, discussed and played.

It has also been announced that coinciding with the exhibition, the V&A is inviting applications for a Videogames Residency, from 15 October 2018 – 15 June 2019. The resident will be a UK-based artist, designer or maker involved in the videogames scene who wishes to develop their practice through working with the V&A’s curators and learning team to develop new work and engage with the public.

The first section of the exhibition will focus on the design inspirations, craftsmanship and creative practice behind a series of individual games. Highlights of the section will include character design sketches, a motion capture suit, animations and working notes of the creative director from The Last of Us from Naughty Dog.

Visitors will then concentrate on how video games have the potential to consider complex and sensitive subject matters such as representation, race, sexuality and geo-politics. This will be explored through interviews and opinion from influential game makers and commentators who are leading this discussion such as developer Rami Ismail and advocate Tanya de Pass.

The third part to the exhibition will be a celebration of the imagination and collaborative creativity shown by videogames players in real and virtual communities, transcending the role of the designer to democratise design on a vast scale. While the final section will look at the rise of the grassroots DIY arcade scene, showcasing handmade arcade cupboards and interactive installations of spectacle and performance.

Talking about the exhibition Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A said: “There is a rich universality to videogames in contemporary culture. This is the right time for the V&A to be building on our active interest in videogames to investigate this exciting and varied design field at the intersection between technology, engineering and broader visual culture, presenting the influences, inspiration and debates that define it. There is a wealth of creativity to explore, from the craft of the studios to the innovation of the audience as players. The exhibition will provide a compelling insight into one of the most important design disciplines of our time.”

Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt will be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum from the 8th September until the 24th February 2019. For more information and to book tickets visit:

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