Thirty years ago, they were machines in the corner of the pub. Today they're art.
Game Masters is an interactive exhibition of more than 100 video games that visitors can play at Te Papa, in Wellington.
The exhibition, which opens today, was created by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, and shows the transformation video games have undergone in the past few decades.
Curatorial consultant Helen Stuckey said games were now being recognised as an art form - and their creators as artists - and the exhibition gave recognition to the game programmers.
"They have completely transformed our relationship to art. They will be the defining art form in the 21st century. Games are really going to be the dominant media."
Some of the earliest and most popular arcade games, such as Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Elevator Action, are included in the exhibition, which then goes on to look at the ground-breaking changes made by the auteurs of the gaming world, such as Nintendo and Sega. It includes soundproofed rooms for groups to perform on Rock Band and SingStar, as well as a stage for Dance Central competitors. Head host Phil Louie said that though video game characters such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario were instantly recognisable, the people who created them were almost invisible.
The final section looks at the games being created by independent programmers all around the world.
Mr Louie said it was now possible for anyone to create a game for smartphones and for the game to become internationally successful, as Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja had.
Early exhibition visitors Kathi Nettles and Duncan Anderson both said video games were a way to escape reality.
WHERE, WHEN, HOW MUCH
Game Masters is open daily at Te Papa from 10am till 6pm, with a late night on Thursdays until 9pm. Entry costs $16 for adults, $9 for children aged 5 to 15 and $14 for concessions. Entry is staggered throughout the day and tickets can be pre-purchased from tepapa.govt.nz.
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