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.

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