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It's Game On as the Life Science Centre in Newcastle gets competitive

The latest big exhibition at the Life Science Centre in Newcastle looks at 60 years of computer gaming

You might think it’s a misprint but it’s not. Game On 2.0 is the world’s biggest collection of playable computer games from the last 60 years. And yes, that really is right . . . 60 years, six-zero.

Only in recent years has gaming become truly ubiquitous, with people zapping and pinging on their mobile phones in public places, which might make you think it’s brand new. But this phenomenon hasn’t come zooming out of nowhere.

Computer gaming has now been around long enough to have a pretty rich history – as you will see in this major international exhibition, which opens at Newcastle’s Life Science Centre at the end of May and will remain with us for five months.

Game On 2.0 takes an in-depth look at the people and technologies that have revolutionised games and how we play on them.

It explores the design process, from concept to packaging, for some of the best-known and most popular games of recent years, including Donkey Kong, Pokémon, Space Invaders, Uncharted, World of Warcraft, Tomb Raider and the Sims.

Visitors will be able to get closely acquainted with more than 100 playable games and there will be a dedicated arcade games section - all free to play once you’ve paid for admission – no 20ps needed here!

Imagine the sparkle in many eyes as retro lovers play on consoles from the 1970s. Pac-Man, Defender and Donkey Kong were an important part of many people’s youthful recreation – as important to many, in fact, as the treasured albums of much-loved bands.

Visitors to the exhibition, which replaces the very different Body Worlds exhibition of last year, will be able to see the technology but also meet the experts.

Animators, artists, programmers and designers employed in the region’s thriving and expanding gaming industry will be on hand at various times to provide valuable insight.

Ian Simmons, director of science communications at Life, says: “How games are created is fascinating and visitors will have the opportunity to meet some of the people involved.

“From designers showing how they create landscapes and characters for games through to programmers showing how they build game engines or university researchers showing how they have adapted game technologies for research purposes, there will be the chance to see how wide-ranging the career opportunities are in this field.”

People enjoying themselves at the Game On exhibition which is coming to Life
People enjoying themselves at the Game On exhibition which is coming to Life

Game On 2.0 is a new version of the original Game On exhibition which was created by London’s Barbican in 2002 and then went on a world tour.

This new version brings it bang up to date with the very latest developments and games. It also takes a look into the future, casting an eye over new and emerging technologies such as Oculus Rift (coming soon, as every real gaming fan will be able to tell you).

Life chief executive Linda Conlon, who introduced us to the dead bodies of Body Worlds last year, is more than happy with this year’s new blockbuster. “We’re very excited to be bringing this world-class exhibition to Newcastle which I’m sure will appeal to all ages,” she says.

“It’s a delightful retrospective, tapping into nostalgia and highlighting the role gaming plays in our society today. Video games have become such an integral part of our lives, changing the way we learn, play and interact. Their evolution from what was essentially a child’s play activity through to a fully immersive experience is phenomenal. In such a short space of time, the video gaming market has become hugely important to the UK, including here in the North East where we have a wealth of expertise.”

Neil McConnon, head of the Barbican’s international enterprises department, added: “Game On 2.0 celebrates games culture in all its myriad forms.

“We think it is particularly relevant that the exhibition will travel to the North East, an area that has made an important contribution to games development.”

Companies such as Eutechnyx, Ubisoft Reflections, Mere Mortals and Double Eleven are all serious players in the industry, supporting a burgeoning gaming ecology across the region.

The exhibition opens on May 23 at Life and runs until November 1. Find opening times and prices at www.life.org.uk


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