Videogames: what to expect in Dundee

March 6, 2019

Our next major exhibition, Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt, celebrates the very best of international digital creativity with a series of new commissions and special events showcasing videogame design from Scotland and around the world.

Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt is the first exhibition to fully consider the complexity of videogames as one of the most important design fields of our time. Today there are an estimated 2.2 billion people who play videogames worldwide, from commuters playing on mobile phones to eSports professionals watched by tens of thousands of spectators.

The exhibition focuses on videogames designed and developed since the mid-2000s when major technological advancements transformed the way games are designed, discussed and played. From multi-million-dollar blockbuster titles to smaller independent games and the work of DIY artists from a hacker/maker culture, the exhibition explores current international debates as well as the creative contributions made to game culture by the players themselves.

Nina Freeman works with small teams of artists and programmers to make games which often explore sex and relationships like “how do you Do It?” (credit: Freeman, Butler, Kittaka, Coss)

We’re opening up the museum and inviting designers to celebrate the best of videogame design. The exhibition includes a major new commission from Glasgow-based illustrator Ursula Kam-Ling Cheng, who is creating a colourful and chaotic mural inspired by virtual worlds. Videogames designed by Abertay University lecturer Niall Moody (Hummingbird) and Abertay graduate Llaura McGee (If Found, Please Return by Dreamfeel) will be showcased in the DIY arcade section, housed in bespoke arcade cabinets designed by Edinburgh studio We Throw Switches.

Hummingbird by Niall Moody.

Highlights of the exhibition include notebooks from the director of The Last of Us and original sketches from the designers of Bloodborne, alongside the digital prototypes that formed the foundation of Journey; games challenging issues of discrimination, identity and sexuality; a spectacular video wall showing how huge online communities create and play together, from Minecraft to Overwatch; and a ‘DIY arcade’ where a range of experimental games from around the world will be available to play.

Playable on smartphones are two prototype mini-games from Consume Me by designer Jenny Jiao Hsia. (credit: Jenny Jiao Hsia)

We are working with We Throw Switches to create a one-off Tay Late event on the evening of Saturday 18 May. The Tay Late will showcase the very latest Scottish and international design creativity with multiplayer party games and unique playable experiences.

To accompany the exhibition, the museum has commissioned a new videogame that will be developed alongside the exhibition. Visitors will be able to try an early version of the game, Plaything, and help inform its final development at a free Family Design Day on Saturday 8 June.

Dundee has a thriving videogame design community, centred around Abertay University which launched the world’s first degree in Computer Games Technology in the 1990s. Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto were both created in Dundee, while today the city produces the console versions of Minecraft at 4J Studios.

Abertay University is also leading InGAME, a games innovation partnership which is supporting the development of Plaything, V&A Dundee’s first videogames commission.

Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt was curated by Marie Foulston, V&A Curator of Videogames and Kristian Volsing, V&A Research Curator, and shown at V&A South Kensington from 8 September 2018 to 24 February 2019.


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