The amazing art of e-game design
TEXT: LOUISE OLDER STEFFENSEN | PHOTOS © MICROSOFT
From Pacman to Assassin’s Creed, many games have grown iconic over time thanks to their unique design and immersive worlds. Electronic gaming has been around for almost 50 years; yet the intensive, extensive design which goes into it has been overlooked as an art form. From September to February, Herning Museum of Contemporary Art (HEART) is changing that with Denmark’s first e-game museum exhibition, NEXT LEVEL, co-curated by TV gaming expert and somewhat of a national treasure, Troldspejlet’s Jacob Stegelmann.
“We want to show off the history of computer game design,” HEART director Holger Reenberg explains. “Why does it look the way it does? How does it draw us in?” HEART has worked with well-known gaming companies and developers, setting up an in-depth and multifaceted exhibition. It is interactive, allowing visitors to try out the games, from the earliest arcade games to the newest in VR. “The average museumgoer apparently only looks at an exhibit for 17 seconds. We’re pretty sure that’ll be different here.”
Visitors follow the evolution of technology and design from the classic arcade games and games consoles of the late 1970s and ‘80s, to modern VR and open world games. “The amount of detail, love and attention that goes into making these worlds is extraordinary,” Reenberg says. Along the way, the exhibition looks into the painstaking processes of building up landscapes, interiors and characters and their development over time. “A character like Lara Croft is fascinating. She started out as this ridiculously well-endowed, very strong bimbo. Later, to appeal more to girls too, her physical assets were toned down, but so was her strength. Why?”
HEART has investigated the relationship between art and industry since its opening in 1977. “Films and film technology have long been considered art,” Reenberg concludes. “I think it’s well-deserved that e-game design is finally being recognised as art as well.”