Let's Play! Exhibiting Video Game History and Play at the Museum
In line with moving towards a more multi-media institute – rather than focusing solely on the more traditional media channels of radio and television – the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision has decided to take up games in the existing collection. Next to collecting, or archiving, presentations are also made to the public through the NISV museum. An example is the Let’s Play exhibition, which ran from the 12th to the 20th of November 2016. Existing game exhibitions focus on games in context (history), games as activity (play), or games as digital objects. It has been suggested that the most successful gaming exhibitions deploy a multi-modal approach and use a combination hereof. The Let’s Play exhibition focused on all three elements; by presenting original hardware and titles, having them playable, and allowing for context through the use of paratexts (e.g. interviews and Let’s Play videos with developers). Although the goal was to present Dutch game history specifically, the exhibition featured many more foreign consoles and titles. This was due to the fact that Dutch game history of the ‘80s and ‘90s (i.e. titles produced in the Netherlands) is somewhat limited, and to provide visitors with more chances to play. Despite low turn-up rates on weekdays, the exhibition was deemed a success, as overall visitor enjoyment levels were high. Visitors enjoyed playing games on original hardware (e.g. Commodore 64’s or a Philips CD-I) and the amount of different consoles and titles were enjoyed by those familiar with the devices, but also by those who were not. Overall, visitor demographics were divided rather equally in age, which illustrates the broad interest in the topic, and all respondents surveyed are under the impression that games should take up an important place at the NISV.