Videogames: A Platform for Creative Excellence.
A fish out of water at the V&A’s Videogaming Exhibition; Design/Play/Disrupt, I was fully prepared for complex consoles that didn’t even fit my hands, let alone make any sense to me, and games which feature only shoot outs or drag races. Though the unfathomable complexities of game design soon left me surprisingly engaged… and just a little in awe.
The skill it takes to make a videogame can’t be denied; it’s impressive for anyone, no matter how engaged you might be with the final product. The sketches, spreadsheets and mapping are all displayed in the exhibition to take you through the ‘behind-the-scenes’ reality of what it really takes to make a game. From months, sometimes even years of writing, planning and conceptualising, to building it with some seriously advanced coding!
There are many elements in games which aren’t the player’s focus but are agonised over in the design stages, as these details are just as important as any in effecting the overall experience and feelof the game. Environmental artists are often tasked with creating hundreds of different templates of the same tree or plant, just to make sure the scene feelsas realistic as possible, not generated with cloned regularity. The same can be said when character designers are restricted to a limited set of features, say colour & size, but are challenged with producing variety in their characters.
With a newfound respect for the creative process, I moved through the exhibition to the Play & Disrupt sections, where my perceptions where challenged further.
Gone are the days of videogaming being only for socially awkward teenage boys shooting baddies in their bedrooms. Since the early naughties, technological advancements have taken the videogaming industry on a fast track to becoming one of our most significant platforms for social & political change. The Pac-Man & Mario’s of the world are now accompanied by games exploring social interaction, race, gender, equality & sexuality to name a few. They’re no longer intended simply for mindless fun, but to make players think, engaging with them on many levels.
With almost a quarter of the world’s population now playing videogames, the platform they hold is vast. Nowadays, people don’t just play games, they spend hours watching videos of other people playing them, commentating on tricks, tactics, as well as their deeper meaning, expression & social impact behind their creation.
Some believe, too much time playing videogames is creating a new generation who are unable to interact with others outside of this at times addictive virtual reality. Whilst this may have some truth to it, the world of videogames is such a rich and varied canvas for development and creativity which is becoming more widely accessible, and we can’t ignore its role in society.