New exhibition explores impact of video games

15 July 2013

An interactive exhibition exploring the dynamics of video games and their impact on everyday life opens at the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow this Thursday. Playtime comprises five parts that together examine: the effect of video games on culture; the artistic value of virtual spaces; and the relationship between the virtual and the real.

Among the artworks in the exhibition is the popular Crayon Physics Deluxe, a 2D interactive sketching board that animates simple drawings, subject to the laws of physics. The game was designed by Finnish game developer Petri Purho. Sleep is Death by US programmer Jason Rohrer also features. The multiplayer storytelling game allows players to improvise a story over the internet complete with basic graphics and comic book-style speech.

A third work, Loopscape, is an installation by Japanese multimedia artist Ryota Kuwakubo. For the installation, Kuwakubo reinvents the concept of a shootout game by replacing the flat screen with a cylindrical LED one, which players have to run around. Joysticks in hand, players fire bullets at each other. But beware — the 360-degree screen means that if your bullet fails to strike your opponent, it could return to hit you.

Elsewhere in the exhibition, Evolution of Play Spaces, one of the exhibition's five sections, documents the changes in video games over the decades. The retrospective, spanning 1980 to 2008, reveals the ever-growing number of possibilities in gaming environments. Sheldon Brown's Scalable City is a case in point — the software allows users to create landscapes with roads and neighbourhoods that would have previously required dozens of animators and artists.

Several games in the exhibition prioritise concepts such as space and experience over action. In Journey, by US-based Thatgamecompany, players make their way through a desert, passing sand dunes, ruins and caves along the way. The aim of the game is to travel and explore this ancient world, thinking about your own purpose and life along the way. Similarly, The Path, inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, offers an atmospheric experience of exploration and discovery.

Playtime runs from 18 July to 8 September.