Phew, for a moment there I thought this display was going to be about how the aliens helped build the pyramids!
As a child growing up in the Pacific Northwest I found myself going to the Seattle's popular Pacific Science Center on a regular basis. It seems like every summer my mom and I would take the trip up to the Emerald City and take in all (or at least some) of the exhibits the Center offered. It would be something different every time, from dinosaurs to space travel. One year I even learned how to be a meteorologist. The Pacific Science Center brings back a lot of good memories; it's one of those places that everybody who lives in the area should visit at least once or twice in their life.
I was reminded of how much I loved going to the Pacific Science Center this week when I attended one of their most recent exhibits, Game On. Game On is an exhibit that covers not only the history of video games, but also their importance in our culture. It's an event that promises over one hundred playable games from all genres and systems. When I heard that consoles like the Jaguar, Sega Saturn and WonderSwan would be present I knew I had to see what this was all about.
But let's back this story up a little. Several weeks ago I was contacted by Barry Hitchings, one of Game On's enthusiastic organizers. He explained that this is "probably" the longest running continuous non-commercial video game exhibition in the world, "maybe." Barry was curious to see what the
Barry takes time out of his busy day to lean on a display for us!
staff of Defunct Games had to say about his exhibit and invited us to take a tour, talk with the people and offer our own take on the event. Obviously we jumped at the opportunity and nailed down a date that worked for everybody involved. That date was last Friday, August 4th.
Game On has been going strong since the end of May and will continue to enlighten gamers (and non-gamers) until August 31. After that they'll pack up their displays, consoles, cartridges and televisions and head to the next location. But before anybody starts pulling the plugs Barry and his team have a lot of work to do informing a public that can only remember bits and pieces of our video game past.
A lot of Game On feels like a museum for classic video game consoles and their arcade counterparts. The moment you walk through those doors you
The woman in this picture was none to happy to see her husband playing video games all day!
see a classic Pong arcade cabinet, a computer from the late 1960s and arcade games only your parents remember. Journey deeper into the exhibit and you'll find archaic computers (various Sinclair computer models, an Apple IIe, Spectravideo SVI-318, etc.) and consoles you normally wouldn't see in person (Nintendo's Family Computer, NEC PC Engine with CD-ROM, etc.). Game On even features a replica of Ralph Baer's Brown Box, the first fully-programmable, multi-player video game unit.
But it's not all computers and consoles you've probably never seen before; just about every video game console gets a chance to show you their stuff. Gamers will be able to play with Atari's Jaguar, NEC's TurboGrafx, and Sega's
Sometimes it's the simple pleasures in life!
Dreamcast. But sadly not all consoles are playable. While gamers will be able to sit down with the GameCube, PlayStation 2 and the Xbox 360, they will only be able to look at the Saturn, Nintendo 64 or WonderSwan. In fact, outside of a few select portables, most of the rare portable consoles are behind a see-through plastic bubble.
Before I had a chance to explore the exhibition an emergency came to our attention ... a very smelly emergency in the Japanese game area. No, this smelly emergency had nothing to do with Dragon Ball Z; instead it was the droppings of a small child. In all of my years covering video game events I have never seen a pile of somebody's poop on the carpet right
Defunct Games Milestone: This is the first poop I've ever seen while covering a gaming event!
in the middle of the thoroughfare. But there it was, right in front of three anime-inspired video games. All I could think of was what it would be like to step in something like that at E3 or the Game Developers Conference. Perhaps this is the reason those kinds of events don't allow children.
After watching several people step in the child's droppings the Pacific Science Center cleaning crew showed up to survey the scene. Thankfully the smelly situation was kept primarily in the anime game section of Game On (one of those sections I could have done without). The custodian explained that a little poop on the carpet is nothing, every day they see things that are far more disgusting around the Center. She appeared to take great pleasure in telling me all about these disturbing events she sees all while I stood there with a horrified look on my face waiting for her to give me a punch line (perhaps she would call the act "The Aristocrats").