We’ll put it back together, raise up a giant ladder
In this line of work, we think a lot about building things. This month we’re freshly back – well, back, certainly – from Gamescom, the biggest videogame event in Europe. Every year, attendance figures rise, and the show must grow in tandem, something you’d forgive its organisers for struggling with. Part of the solution to an ever-more-teeming throng is to spread Gamescom out beyond the walls of the Koelnmesse. These days Gamescom is not just a gaming show but an esports tournament, a cosplay contest, an industry conference and B2B pow-wow, to name a few. It covers much of the city of Cologne, and has come to feel more like a festival than a pure consumer show. It’s all the better for it.
Gamescom’s organisers are old hands at this; this was the show’s tenth year, after all. Yet elsewhere this issue we find out how the organisers of a very different kind of videogame event have approached a similar sort of problem. The V&A museum in London is finally putting on a proper videogame exhibition, but its own lofty standards meant that simply stuffing a load of demo stations into a museum hall or three just wouldn’t do. Instead, it wanted the exhibition to be built in such a way that it would mirror the process that brings games to life. In Stage Clear, we meet a team of curators and designers that has learned a lot about its own creative process by studying the work of game makers, incorporating their techniques in an exhibit that feels, in its way, like a game in itself.
The very notion of building is a marvel, if not a miracle: skilled hands turning raw materials into something new, sturdy and unique. Yet there’s nothing so miraculous in this issue as Cyberpunk 2077. CD Projekt Red merely surprised the industry with its previous game, the emotionally nuanced open-world RPG The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. With its new game, it has stunned it. Gamescom gave us our second look at the Polish studio’s remarkable Night City, and we still can’t believe our eyes. The story of what goes in to building a new industry benchmark begins on p58.