Dr Julien Drouart
Video Game Museum: Success partly unlocked
Updated: Jan 11, 2022
The Video Game Museum attempts to musealise video game activity, without becoming an interactive playground. Despite good intentions, the result is mixed.
A visit to the Video Game Museum is optional.
Since the arrival of the first home consoles and their popularisation among the general public in the 1980s, the evolution of the video game world and the development of a real video game industry have accompanied two entire generations of gamers to maturity. Despite its detractors, the practice of video games has been democratised.
Like comics or cinema, in a few decades it will acquire the rank of art with the advantages and disadvantages associated with this status. In the meantime, it is relevant to question these identity markers specific to video games and also to the wider subculture that has emerged from them.
An overly disorganised museography
The search for ever more varied and exhaustive information makes the Video Game Museum an often unreadable and unintuitive entity. The entries overlap and accumulate without ever really constituting a common thread. The modules follow one another but do not complement each other in any way. While some subjects are dealt with very succinctly, others are terribly oriented and thus lose all interest.
The origins of video games are too detailed to be intelligible, while the associated culture is shamefully skimmed over, while the current realities of the video game industry fail to be transcribed due to the absence of critical discourse. As for the video games themselves, the museum struggles to give them a prominent place. The games that have made the history of video games are not presented, while others, for no apparent reason, appear in a self-proclaimed Pantheon. Game libraries are simply ignored. Worse, due to design imperatives, the permanent exhibition is interrupted by late updates and hardly takes into account the subsequent developments of the video game world.
One positive note: the presence of a small arcade allowing you to find Space Invaders, Donkey Kong and other Frogger games. Also the incredible presence of an arcade machine from the former GDR, released in the 1980s. A time when the East German leaders considered the use of video games as tangible with the objectives of education.
A difficult but promising challenge.
Musealising video games is an exciting, difficult but promising challenge. The result is mixed and the design of the museum will not meet the expectations of novices or the legitimate aspirations of fans of the genre. An obvious confusion arises from a profusion of information, from a tendency to exhaustiveness which is unfortunately to the detriment of quality.
Above all, here is a Video Game Museum that puts video games in the background. Of course, the idea was not to transform the premises into an arcade, but the mistake is perhaps to present the video game as a still life. The people behind the project are certainly passionate, but the whole thing still seems shaky.
Reasons to go
Some arcade machines from the 1980s, which can be played for free
The module dedicated to video games in the GDR and the possibility to play a vintage arcade machine, the famous Poly-Play
The gallery showing the evolution of consoles and microcomputers
Reasons to avoid
The secondary importance of video games
The absence of a real video game pantheon
The exhaustiveness of an irrelevant information
A disappointing quality/price ratio