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Oct 30

Computer Game Exhibitions through the Ages

“British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age” is a forthcoming exhibit at the V&A to “showcase the best of British design and creative talent” which happens to contain some special British computer games. But as we’ll see, it’s not the first time a Museum has displayed some of DMA’s games.

From the V&A press release:

There will also be an immersive computer-gaming installation at the centre of the final gallery, featuring specially designed projections of five video games developed in Britain: Elite (1984), Lemmings (1991), Tomb Raider (1996), Grand Theft Auto (1997) and Little Big Planet (2007).

It will run from 31st March to 12th August 2012. This also affords me the opportunity to ramble for a bit.

DMA Exhibition at the Mcmanus Gallery

Not the DMA News 3

This is especially nice, because the V&A will be opening in Dundee in the future, lending a further level of connection, where of course Dundee was home to DMA. However, there is already a DMA exhibit in Dundee, hosted at The McManus, an art gallery and museum. I like this one very much because my name is in there someplace, along with an issue of Not the DMA News 3, a parody of the DMA Newsletter, which was my doing.

This is not the first time that computer games have been on display in an exhibition. Back in the day, the late lamented Museum of the Moving Image had Lemmings as part of Re-Play, a “special feature” which ran from 29th Nov 1996 to 15th May 1997. At the time they had an appeal for old computer software and hardware to create the first national archive of computer games. To quote the press pack:

Around 80% of films made in cinema’s silent era, presumed lost. Similarly much of early television has alos disappeared. Determined to ensure a similar fate does not await one fo the newer image formats, the British Film Institute (BFI) has begun to preserve video games at its National Film and Television Archive in Berkhamsted.

MOMI Re-Play Pamphlet

MOMI Re-Play Cover

A small subset of DMA made a pilgrimage during its run, travelling down to London on the train. During the modest amount of research I did for this post, I uncovered a “report” I’d written at the time from the opening night of the exhibition. There, jammed between the pamphlets, were three pages of my own words of which I had entirely forgotten and which didn’t appear to exist on the computer. It may have been printed as part of the old DMA Newsletter, but I’m not sure it ever was. In addition to writing the parody of the DMA Newsletter, I also wrote the DMA Newsletter…

I’m typing up the report at the moment, cleaning up some of the grammar/ de-typo’ing it and will post the result sometime soon, along with a handful of photos I took on the night.