Design / Play / Disrupt: V&A Dundee's next major exhibition 'celebrates the role of players themselves'
As the world of contemporary videogames lights up the V&A this summer, curator Meredith More tells us more about the craft of 21st-century gaming
The argument that videogames are a form of art is to get a significant boost thanks to V&A Dundee and its next major exhibition. Videogames: Design / Play / Disrupt, curated by Marie Foulston and Kristian Volsing, celebrates the best of digital creativity, with new commissions and special events showcasing videogame design from Scotland and around the world. Exhibits on show include design documents from Journey, The Last of Us and No Man's Sky, plus brand new playable games, design workshops and talks.
V&A Dundee curator Meredith More explains that the exhibition focuses on videogames from 2000 onwards. 'It's a very contemporary exhibition looking carefully at the design process behind videogames and really celebrating them as one of the most important mediums in the contemporary design world,' she says. 'There's a lot in the show for people that love videogames but also for people that would consider themselves not to be gamers, because it really shows the craft behind the creation of videogames. And it celebrates the role of players themselves.'
Long established as the cultural home of gaming in the UK, Dundee is the perfect location for this exhibition which is transferring from V&A London. It's Dundee where Grand Theft Auto was famously born and where the ZX Spectrum was originally manufactured, while both Abertay University and the University of Dundee are renowned for their industry-focused game design courses. The city is also home to InGAME (Innovation for Games and Media Enterprise), a brand new multi-million pound research and development centre.
As part of the exhibition, V&A have commissioned a set of arcade cabinets from We Throw Switches, an Edinburgh-based design and events company run by Andrew Dyce and Craig Fairweather who also host Games Are For Everyone, a combination of nightclub and gaming night. Dyce explains that they were asked by V&A to design arcade cabinets to help create an immersive physical aspect for a number of the games on show. 'For three or four months last year we designed and fabricated these arcade cabinets and their control schemes, and they went down to become part of the London exhibition,' he says. 'Now the exhibition is moving up to Dundee, the V&A curation and exhibition team have kindly asked us to put in two more cabinets. So now we're going through the process again with two games with a Scottish connection.'
While other exhibitions have explored gaming from its (relatively recent) beginnings, Videogames: Design / Play / Disrupt is very much focused on contemporary game design. Meredith More explains that over the past two decades there have been significant technological changes in the way people play games, as well as a revolution in how they are published and consumed, resulting in games being much more accessible for people to play and create. 'There's been a real shift in the industry and the curators wanted to focus on this period,' she says. 'Quite a lot of past exhibitions have focused on the nostalgic aspects of videogames whereas this show is really about thinking how the industry has changed recently, and what it might look like in the future.'
Videogames: Design / Play / Disrupt, V&A Dundee, Sat 20 Apr–Sun 8 Sep.
Exhibition focusing on the design aspect of an unlikely medium: video games. Exploring the work that has been done in the area since the mid-2000s, this exhibition, alongside a series of events, talks, commissions and workshops, reflects on the complexity of video games and the international debates surrounding them.