Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt at the V&A

This winter, the V&A is offering a revealing insight into the art and artistry behind some of the world's most popular videogames with a thrilling new show. Peter Gray reports.

The front of the V&A

A museum show entirely devoted to video games? Not being a gamer, I was initially turned off by the prospect, but having now seen the show myself, I can confidently give Design/Play/Disrupt a resounding thumbs up.

It is only too easy to dismiss the skill involved in creating video games as examples of the medium are now so prevalent, with hundreds of games released every month. However, this exhibition goes a long way to highlighting the incredible art and artistry that goes into producing the top titles.

The first few rooms set the scene, giving visitors a brief overview of the history and culture of gaming technology, however the exhibition only really comes to life in the Design and Play sections of the show, where specific titles are used to highlight the skill and innovation of the game creators.

The Design section begins with Journey, a stunning adventure game that blurs the line between gaming and art. Journey tells the story of an explorer (controlled by the gamer) who is making his way through the desert to a distant mountain.  There are opportunities to meet and assist other players along the way but conversation – whether by text or speech – is forbidden.

The game was released in 2012 to huge critical acclaim and it has subsequently been rated one of the greatest releases of all time. The exhibition traces the evolution of the game with sketches, notebooks, photographs and storyboards all used to track the development of the idea.

The Disrupt section of the show considers the potential for games to act as a catalyst for social and political change. The show highlights the many ways that games can act as a force for good but reassuringly, the exhibition is not afraid to tackle the role that videogames play in glorifying violence and antisocial behaviour.

The final section of the exhibition, Play, offers visitors a chance to try a host of new games. If you’re a gamer, then this will obviously be the part of the exhibition that you head to first, and I must say that the games showcased here were particularly impressive, with a range of intriguing titles like Anna Anthropy’s Queers in Love at the End of the World.

Design/Play/Disrupt is a great show with a nice balance between the informative and the interactive. It’s an exhibition that will please gamers and non gamers alike and the show comfortably succeeds in highlighting the art and artistry behind the humble video game.

Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt is at the V&A until Sunday 24th February 2019. If you would like to know more about the show, click here.

If you’d like information on more great art events in London, click here.


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Until Sun 24th Feb 2019

What: video game exhibition
When: This event has ended
Where: The V&A