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Design genius of video games explored in major Victoria & Albert Museum show
Video Games, Play, Design, Disrupt at the V&A (8 September 2018 - 24 February 2019), Installation Image Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

by James Pheby

LONDON (AFP).- A giant screen showing mesmerising landscapes from the hit video game "Journey" greets visitors to a major London show celebrating the industry's trailblazing fusion of technical genius and artistic vision.

The exhibition at London's iconic Victoria and Albert Museum attempts to demystify the design process behind one of the world's most popular entertainment industries, focussing on the artistic contribution of games made after the creative explosion of the mid-2000s.

The show's mantra, according to V and A chief Tristram Hunt is "operas made out of bridges" -- a phrase coined by US gaming expert Frank Lantz's to describe the multi-faceted nature of making a video game.

The industry is a "fusion of art, craft, literature, cinema, fashion and music," Hunt said at the press opening, calling it "strikingly innovative, uniquely creative and commercially succesful.

"It is the first exhibition of its kind to consider fully the complexity of contemporary video games design -- one of most important design disciplines of our time," he added.

The exhibition, entitled "Videogames: design/play/disrupt", contains original drawings, notebooks and flow charts revealing the creative process behind titles such as apocalyptical blockbuster "The Last of Us" and 2013 indie adventure "Kentucky Route Zero".

It also explores the wider cultural impact of video games, looking a the e-sport phenomenon, the political messaging of designers and the online communities that have come together worldwide to play.

An estimated 2.2 billion people used video games in 2017, and the industry is now worth around $109 billion (93 billion euros).

As well as its commercial success, the industry is now receiving critical recognition, as demonstrated by the show at the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design.

Curator Marie Foulston said the exhibits celebrated designers who had "created radical new worlds, pushing video games into spaces that we hadn't expected or considered.
"We want to challenge perceptions of what video games are," she added.

Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte's "Le Blanc Seing" is the show's most prestigious item, loaned to the exhibition to demonstrate its stylistic influence on "Kentucky Route Zero".

Other exhibits include the prototypes, design drawings and desert research footage from 2012 release "Journey", which was lauded for attempting to use game design to go beyond mere aesthetics and evoke emotional concepts of love and friendship.

A huge cinema screen shows the vast scale of enterprises undertaken by communities of gamers in hit titles such as "Minecraft" as part of an exploration of the interplay between users and their games.

The show opens on Saturday, and runs until February next year.

Agence France-Presse

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