Johannes raises a number of interesting questions of what an exhibition of games might be like. It might be useful to return to some of the issues raised during the first workshop of the project where games designers were asked what should be in exhibited and how it should de exhibited.

The two areas where there was a broad consensus were what the exhibition should not be, a chronology, or an arcade. The rational being that chronologies are readily accessible, and besides the logistical problems (visitors spending long periods at each exhibition) of exhibiting games there was a concern that playing the games in the exhibition environment would undermine the ‘intimacy’ between the game and the played that is achieved in the home.

I found this particularly interesting. The same effect (dislocation from the intimacy of use) is true of the clothing, furniture and countless objects held in museum collections. In these collections the intimate relationship is used as much to tell us about the people who used the object as the object itself.  Perhaps drawing a distinction between this museological approach and a gallery exhibition will help to locate what kind of artefacts might be collected and how they are exhibited.

Does the exhibition of games where the purpose is to expose the relationship between the designer, the artefact and the players through the presentation of contextual materials help to locate the kind material that should be exhibited?

From: Curating digital art - [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Johannes Birringer [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 18 August 2014 19:16
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] Video Games into the Museum

dear Chris, and all:

[Gary Penn schreibt]
It depends on what each object needs to say in terms of games and design.
Showing objects and their functions (even in contexts) is one thing;
it's quite another to appreciate how and why that object ended up with its final function and form
(and how both final function and form affect the object's presence).>>

Thanks for the clarification, Chris, though I detect a small contradiction in your conclusion: if as you believe (and I don't) we are all gamers, then
the museum must know its audience and wants to appeal to all," the culturally curious of all ages, genders, ethnicities etc."

But what [well, how?] does the museum curate/exhibit, is it the wide variety and possibilities of digital games? A selection of that wide variety? in an arcade?
on/with  consoles, laptops, computers, screens, controllers?  Images? Time lines, histories?  Antiques like the Jumpman Mario, and late releases, like Grand Theft Auto V, along with critiques and panel discussions on mazes,  avatar rape?
Machinima workshops, children's tours, listening rooms for game sound tracks?

will it enable the curious to discover more about all kinds of digital games and their production?    will it mention independent festivals (I remember working with the "ScreenPlay" group in Nottingham in 2004-05, with shows at Broadway Cinema and hacker workshops, etc).

will it extract "objects" [images of objects?] from games, functions, narratives and whatever affordances (those would be experienced actually playing the games, using the interfaces, going up the levels, rehearsing, comparing?) and how will it exhibit the extractions and accessories?

how different would such a show be from an art exhibition (say, the huge El Greco show currently at the Prado in Madrid) or a sound art exhibition such as the one I mentioned, at the Science Museum ["The Exponential Horn: In Search of Perfect Sound",  side by side with Electronica, Radiophonics and Oramics, which seemed to attract the culturally, scientifically  and pop and radio culturally curious], or not? and could games indeed be perceived "as a medium and
taken increasingly seriously as culture and art"?

Well, I am not sure where to go with this, as I am still quite uncertain about a critical or expository exhibit of the design processes, creativites, and interface engineering  (and Marc Garrett just announced an interesting event in Munich called "Beyond the Interface", which also seems to reference Lori Emerson's new book, Reading Writing Interfaces), and how this could be done. I went to the Gaultier show at the Barbican to learn more about the design processes
and saw hundreds of fashion objects and "talking" mannequins (video projections on mannequin faces), photographs, and (combined) garments from different eras of the designer's career, but my curiosity in Gaultier's design choices, fashion and sexual politics was largely blocked as I did not understand (or was not given information) enough of the contexts, design and materials constructions, effects or impacts, the wearing, etc, so had to be resigned to enjoy the sensual beauty and the punk/funk surface craziness of the displays.

Are you imaging that the culturally curious will be prepared to read and admire the function and form and the affect of the game object's presences?

Johannes Birringer

[Chris Lowthorpe schreibt]
Things are changing. Digital games are growing up as a medium and being
taken increasingly seriously as culture and art, as the increasing number
of exhibitions proves. But still negative perceptions persist ­ the
British Prime Minister proudly informed the media recently that his
children were banned from playing games ­ and many still believe games are
inherently violent or of little cultural worth. For me the exhibition
shouldnıt be pandering to or reinforcing these opinions but challenging
them. It should showcase the variety and possibilities of digital games,
exposing the creativity and design processes behind such powerful

The reason this doesnıt appear to be happening, as I see it, is because
the exhibition doesnıt currently seem to know who its audience is. This
might be a result of strategic policy within the V&A ­ a desire to engage
a younger audience ­ that has pushed the tone towards appealing to
Œgamersı who they believe mostly lie within this target demographic, or
for a variety of reasons Iım not privy to. Whatever, I think targeting an
exhibition at a diminishing niche audience of Œgamersı is not the way to
go. In a society where most of us now play digital games of some kind, an
exhibition should appeal to the culturally curious of all ages, genders,
ethnicities etc. and enable them to discover more about all kinds of
digital games and their production.

After all, weıre all gamers now.


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