I cried twice today.
The first time was upon entering “Game Masters – The Exhibition” at the National Museum of Scotland. The first part of the exhibit, called Arcade Masters, looked just like a real arcade from when I was a kid. And there was Space Invaders and Pac Man and Missile Command, all the old favorites. I saw moms and dads holding up their kids, showing them how to play, saying, “look this was my favorite when I was your age.”
I almost sobbed. Why? Oh, maybe I’m PMSing and tired from two days straight of walking, but I think it might be something deeper than that.
Will and I played a few games, I totally crushed him in ‘Elevator Action,’ but he’s generally better at all of them than I am. We moved on to the next section, I think it was called Modern Masters, showing the games from the last decade or so that have made their creators millionaires and have added the word Industry to the word Gaming. The room was full of Xbox’s, PlayStations and PC’s, all loaded with titles like Sonic the Hedgehog, Rock Band, all the Lego games and, my personal addiction, World of Warcraft. (I lost most of 2006 and a fair portion 2007 to that game.)
It was in this second room that I started to understand my emotional reaction. Along with the games, there were pictures of concept art and diagrams of game levels. There were videos of interviews with the designers, programmers, writers, with all the whys and hows of what they did. The creators are almost all like me, born in the 60s and 70s and grew up with the games. The loved the games so much, that they made their own, or found ways to get hired by the new companies that were popping up all over. All the games in that room represent creativity and passion and dedication and hard work. In other words, art. But the game isn’t removed from us, the audience, it isn’t hung up on a wall, it isn’t something we passively listen to or watch. It only lives when it is played, when the audience interacts with it, and through it, with each other.
Games are the perfect art form.
The third and final room held the Indie Masters. Angry Birds, Machinarium, Braid, Minecraft, etc. Some so brilliant in their simple playability, and others, well, more like a bit of modern art that leaves me scratching my head, huh?
Will and I spent the rest of the day in the museum, exploring Scottish History and eating in the amazing Tower restaurant there. We both feel that the museum is worth a return visit.
Later that night, after fish and chips and mushy peas, we turned on the telly and watched ‘Scrooge’ – The 1970 Albert Finney musical version of A Christmas Carol, which I’d never seen before. Will says the movie was an unfortunate part of his childhood, as his mother watched it every year around this time. I’m a sucker for a musical, even a bad one, (this one is really bad) and I watched the whole thing.
And it made me cry. A lot. But I will blame that on being exhausted.