Game On 2.0

Game On 2.0

Towards the end of October, a couple of friends and I decided to take a trip to the North East to check out Game On 2.0 at the Life Science Centre in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Game On 2.0 is the first major international touring exhibition to explore the history and culture of computer games. It has exhibited in over 20 countries worldwide and boasts an impressive 150 playable games across a plethora of platforms from the 1960’s onwards.

Upon walking into the Game 2.0 exhibit, there is a instantly recognizable bright yellow PONG arcade cabinet by Atari, which was one of the first video games to reach mainstream popularity. Next to the cabinet, they had a projection on the wall of the game itself which you can play.

Further into the exhibition, we found a MAME emulator which was also being projected onto the wall. This was setup to load a random MAME ROM when you pressed the button. Also in the same area was a Space Invaders cab and a Asteroids cab, which I did manage to get the high score on a one point. Even though these games were decades old with basic graphics and sound, they were still challenging and enormous fun to play.

Leaving the classic arcades behind, we ventured further into the exhibition to find the start of the home computer section which was full of computers and consoles from all around the world. This really was impressive stuff. You name it and it was there, even Japanese computers we had never even heard of were there to play on. We wasted hours playing on computers from our childhoods, ZX81, Dragon 32, ZX Spectrum, Commodore Amiga, Commodore 64, Atari 2600, the list goes on and on.

One thing I really liked about this exhibition besides all the different computers and consoles was all the different joysticks and controllers that were connected to these machines. Some of the Japanese controllers were quite bizarre. I remember trying to play Ridge Racer on a PlayStation One with a controller that was split down the middle and you had to twist it in opposite directions to steer the car. It took some getting used to!

Other sections of the exhibition included a corner dedicated to handheld devices, all laid out on a table with chairs where you could sit yourself down, pick up a device and just start playing on it. I was quite surprised as to how many handheld device there actually are out there in the wild. You do not realise until you see them all spread out in one place.

There was also a corner dedicated to PC’s, all linked up so you and your friends could have your very own LAN party. I can not remember what game was running at the time but there was a good size crowd enjoying it all the same. Just to the other side of the PC section was some glass cabinets full of gaming memorabilia like toys, lunch boxes, t shirts, etc. There was quite a collection of PaRappa the Rappa stuff.

As you wandered through the exhibit, hanging on the walls was concept art from games past and present. I also seen a monitor which was displaying concept art in a slideshow form. Some of the art was truly amazing. I especially liked the early drawings and doodles of games like Donkey Kong.

The exhibition ended with another section dedicated to arcade machines. This area included games such as OutRun, Star Wars, Missile Command, Track & Field, Donkey kong, plus a few others cabinets. I was hoping to have a go on an original PacMac arcade but the only one I could find was PacMan Plus (which I never knew existed). I did wander back round to the MAME emulator where I managed to get the PuckMan ROM to load after pressing the ‘load random game’ button a few times. Nom nom nom.

If you enjoy gaming and Game On 2.0 is in your local area, I highly recommend you check it out.

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