In the centre of Nottingham, not far from the Victoria Centre shopping arcade (which, if you are to visit the National Videogame Arcade, I recommend parking at), lies the National Videogame Arcade. The NVA is a mix of things. It’s a museum. It’s somewhere people can play some games. It’s a meeting point and venue for listening to talks about the games industry.
It’s also a place that has a toast bar. You read that correctly. Visitors can sit down, enjoy a cuppa and some toast … and either play tabletop games OR classic console games – there’s a menu for consoles as well as covered bread snacks. Awesome. Oh. There’s also a licenced bar on the premises.
The museum has been open for a couple of months now and is still being worked on. Having said that, the potential is clearly evident and there is no shortage of things to do while there.
I learned about the NVA through my wife who is a teacher of Computer Science in Nottinghamshire. The venue hosts a monthly meetup for teachers to discuss not only the museum itself but also other computer based stuff. Today, she paid for me to visit and … to jump to the end, I loved it. The venue is a great mix of new and old. In the lobby, as you enter (before tickets have been bought) is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade machine. Moving through the venue, there are some great innovations – one is a simple asteroid style shooter – where players compete to get high scores. But … behind the players is a tablet, on which someone else can draw and deploy aliens to the game.
Next to this game was the “room racer” room. This is a brilliant one. The floor is a screen on which are cars for players to control. ON TOP of the floor are a number of everyday objects, from toothbrushes to blocks and so on. These act as actual obstacles for the cars. As people move them, a Kinect sensor enables the cars to respond accordingly. Mind blowing.
Each Quarter, the National Videogame Arcade changes its central exhibit. This time, it’s “JUMP”. This exhibit explores the various methods of jumping in games and includes a gallery (brilliantly presented) of how different game characters have jumped in games. On top of this, there is a “wall of jumps” which demonstrates various jumping styles and there are even custom programmed, simple games, that illustrate jumping, double jumping and so on. Additionally, the “Jump-o-tron” allows visitors to customise some settings (trajectory and so on), then physically jump to see how the character performs. A printout is given of the results.
One of my favourite exhibits was the wall and screen displays of the first level of Sonic the Hedgehog to showcase level design. On one wall, the level is shown in full, while on screens behind, the level can be scrolled and zoomed to view the level as well.
In addition to these exhibits, various systems and consoles are located around the venue. Visitors can play (currently!) games such as Lylat Wars, Donkey Conga, Starbound, Portal, Dance Dance Revolution, Smash Bros U, Nihhogg (which works excellently as an arcade machine!), Sega Bass Fishing, Sonic 2 and more. There’s also a “history of video games in 100 objects” exhibit which is a fun down nostalgia lane and beyond for those of us old enough!
I’d like to give a special shout-out to the staff who were excellent around the venue. All were friendly and smiling and a credit to the museum. Thanks to everyone of you for a great time.
On the down side, the location isn’t perhaps the best for parents with very young children or those with wheel chairs. It’s set out on multiple levels, with a stairwell linking them to one side of the rooms. Unfortunately there wasn’t an obvious alternate means of ascending and descending to the stairs. I think it’s a tribute to the team behind the museum that so much is crammed into such a small space … on a level by level basis that is. I’d love the venue to be able to grow. I know there’s another floor currently being worked on and look forward to making many more visits in the future.
Day tickets are £8.50 for Adults, £6.50 for under 16s, Students and over 60s. Children under 5 enter for free and an annual membership can be purchased for £25. This reduces entry fees to £5.20 and also allows priority and discounted access to the monthly talks and other events on offer.
For more information about the National Videogame Arcade, check out their website here.
GS Blogger: WedgeDoc