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  • Writer's pictureDr Julien Drouart

Video Game Museum: Success Partly Unlocked

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

A video game museum reflects the importance of this medium in our societies.

The Video Game Museum strives to musealize video game activity without devolving into an interactive playground. Despite the commendable intentions, the outcome is mixed.

A Visit Is Optional

With the introduction of the first home consoles and their widespread popularity among the general public in the 1980s, the evolution of the video game world and the development of a substantial video game industry have accompanied two generations of gamers into maturity. Despite its critics, video game activity has been democratized.

Like comics or cinema, in a few decades it will attain the status of art, complete with the benefits and drawbacks associated with this status. In the interim, it is pertinent to explore these identity markers specific to video games and the broader subculture they have spawned.

An Overly Disorganized Museography

The pursuit of increasingly varied and comprehensive information results in the Video Game Museum often being an unreadable and unintuitive entity. The entries overlap and accumulate without forming a coherent thread. The modules follow one another but lack any mutual complementarity. While some topics are treated quite briefly, others are unduly extended and thus lose all interest.

The origins of video games are too meticulously detailed to be comprehensible, while the associated culture is merely glossed over. The current realities of the video game industry are inadequately conveyed due to the absence of critical discourse. As for the video games themselves, the museum struggles to give them their due prominence. The games that have shaped video game history are not showcased, while others, for no discernible reason, are included in a self-proclaimed Pantheon. Game libraries are altogether ignored. Worse still, due to design constraints, the permanent exhibition is interrupted by belated updates and scarcely considers the subsequent evolutions of the video game world.

On a positive note, the museum houses a small arcade that includes Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, and other Frogger games. Moreover, there's the exceptional presence of an arcade machine from the former GDR, produced in the 1980s—a time when East German leaders considered video games as being in alignment with educational objectives.

A Challenging but Promising Undertaking

Musealizing video games is an intriguing, challenging but promising undertaking. The outcome is mixed, and the museum's design is unlikely to satisfy the curiosity of novices or meet the legitimate aspirations of genre enthusiasts. An evident confusion arises from the overload of information, from an aspiration for comprehensiveness that sadly sacrifices quality.

Above all, this is a Video Game Museum that relegates video games to the background. Certainly, the idea wasn't to convert the premises into an arcade, but the mistake might be in presenting video games as a static display. The people behind the project are undoubtedly passionate, but the overall venture still appears unstable.

Reasons to Visit

  • Some 1980s arcade machines, available for free play

  • The module dedicated to video games in the GDR, with the opportunity to play on a vintage arcade machine, the famed Poly-Play

  • The gallery depicting the evolution of consoles and microcomputers

Reasons to Skip

  • The subordinate importance given to video games

  • The lack of a genuine video game pantheon

  • The exhaustive inclusion of irrelevant information

  • A disappointing quality/price ratio

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