Design/Play/Disrupt: V&A’s new video game exhibition is well worth a visit

Are video games art? Who cares.

The debate about whether video games might be art has been around for about as long as pixels were being pushed around screens, and the entire industry is tired of it.

With the launch of its new video game exhibition Design/Play/Disrupt, London’s Victoria and Albert museum sidesteps the question and instead shines a spotlight on the “notebooks and hard-drives” of some of the brightest minds in games development, showing punters behind the curtain, letting them look at the processes behind titles like Journey, Splatoon and The Last of Us.

In the video below, Trusted Reviews talks to one of the curators, Marie Foulston, and also one of the Journey designers, Robin Hunicke, about the exhibition.

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We popped across to take a look, and it seems the V&A have created a thoughtful exhibition that doesn’t just show that video games are capable of having artistic merit, but that they can make you think and feel too.

It’s not a canonical exhibition showing off a couple of sketches of Pac-Man and a CRT monitor running Pong. Instead, there are games that have handled design in an interesting way, with a wall devoted to different planets in space-’em-up No Man’s Sky, and another terminal showing how boss fights are constructed in Bloodborne.

This focus upon several games is backed up with several smaller stands querying cultural issues within games, such as diversity, sexism, violence and politics.

There are playable games in the final room, a vividly coloured tornado of arcade machines featuring weird and wonderful titles like QWOP (which I’m still awful at), and a point-and-click adventure game where you’re a bear driving a speedboat. It was excellent.

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Nothing here is a truly deep dive into some of the games and issues, but there’s a decent examination of a lot of things here, and those fascinated by design, but not familiar with video games, will find plenty to sink their teeth into as an examination of both how we got here, and the issues the industry has to face up to in the future. Meanwhile, fans will likely appreciate a glimpse of some rare gaming artefacts from the last decade.

Design/Play/Disrupt opens on September 8, and runs until February. Tickets are on sale now for £18.

Do you fancy heading down? Let us know how you get on on Twitter at @TrustedReviews.

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