A door between two worlds


OK, here’s a test. What were you doing 19 years ago? If the answer is ‘making plans to visit Game On, the first major UK exhibition to explore the vibrant history and culture of videogames’, then snap – us, too. If you were in a particular­ly honoured group, you may even remember the Edge party held at the event, where the likes of Steven Poole could be found mingling among a galaxy of games from across the ages. This Barbican exhibition felt important, staged with the kind of attention to detail you’d expect from such an organisati­on, displaying 125 playable games and exotic original hardware such as a DEC PDP-1 minicomput­er alongside a sparkly yellow Computer Space cabinet. Yes, we thought at the time, finally videogames are getting the recognitio­n they’ve avoided for so long – what comes next? Game On 2.0 arrived in 2010, but we’ve had to wait until this year for the Barbican to provide a next-generation kind of event in Virtual Realms, an exhibition with ambitions on a different scale, featuring unique interactiv­e works created by industry names such as Tetsuya Mizuguchi. As we discover on p80, the journey from conception to live event has been an extremely challengin­g one, but you can visit it now – at least if you’re near Singapore, where it’s making its debut. It’s due in Australia next year and after that will theoretica­lly go wherever anyone is willing to fund it. Perhaps we’ll order some trays of canapés and host another Edge get-together if it makes it to London in the future.

Videogames’ artistic values have been very much on our minds this month as we’ve been talking to Shedworks and exploring this issue’s cover star, Sable, a game that is easy to imagine featuring among an exhibition 19 years from now. Once you’ve seen it, it’s the kind of thing that is very difficult to forget. And that’s been frustratin­g because it means it’s been on our minds for five long years, ever since we first saw it in tiny slices via animated GIFs online. Now, we get the opportunit­y to take in its sights properly – and soak up its evocative soundtrack – starting on p58.

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