Yesterday I had the opportunity to go and tour the Game Masters exhibit at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. The exhibit, put together by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, is a look at the work of influential game designers such as Warren Spector (System Shock, Deus Ex, Ultima Underworld), Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear, Snatcher, Zone of the Enders), Will Wright (SimCity, The Sims, Spore), Yu Suzuki (Hang On, Outrun, Shenmue) and many more. The exhibition started in Melbourne, but has since travelled to the Museum of New Zealand and now Sydney.
There’s a lot of quite amazing things to see on display – an original Magnavox Odyssey with all its mats and cards as well as scans of Ralph Baer‘s design documents that were used as evidence in a lawsuit against Atari in 1974, an original Japanese mirror-screen Space Invaders cabinet, Tempest and Asteroids machines with perfectly working vector monitors, the original design documents for Deus Ex from when it was called “Shooter: Majestic Revelations“, a large sized partial model of the roadhog from Brutal Legend – all in immaculate condition. Sections for designers as well as companies in the case of Nintendo, Sega, Blizzard Entertainment and TT Games are on show, with blurbs about their carrier, playable examples, video interviews with headphones – Yu Suzuki‘s section has a Dreamcast running Shenmue as well as ride-on cabinets for Hang-On and Outrun. Tetsuya Mizuguchi‘s corner shows off Space Channel 5, Lumines and REZ, as well as a dark room with Child of Eden running on a large projector for an interesting experience. A dancing stage for Dance Central and glass-box rooms for Rock Band and Singstar were also available, with the requisite information – and in the case of Rock Band a wall full of concept sketches – also on show. A section devoted to indie games shows off the works of thatgamecompany (flow, Flower, Journey), Capy Games (Critter Crunch, Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery) to name a few as well as designers that were harder to fit into a specific category, such as Masaya Matsuura (Parappa the Rapper, Vib Ribbon).
There’s a lot to see and the price of admission is very modest with the bonus of getting you access to the rest of the museum also. The guide-book in the museum shop is also quite good, full colour and well made. All in all, it’s a fun exhibit and worth seeing if interested (and in the area, of course).
- Sadly two systems were out-of-order, ironically both PlayStation 3 displays
- Space Channel 5 and Vib Ribbon are very difficult on a LCD display that isn’t set up for low-latency
- It should of course be noted that it’s very rare for a game to be created by just one person. Lots of people are involved in the creation process and at times it can be a little unfair to attribute something to just one person when in reality hundreds may have done their part.
- The document showing the name “Deus Ex” for the first time has a small note on the front reading “It’s pronounced ‘Day-oos Ecks’, so don’t ask again”
- The Nintendo display had Zelda 1 and Ocarina of Time cartridges sitting on top of their respective systems in the cabinets, but they were running the Virtual Console versions on a Wii
- Hang-On‘s menu music and Snake Eater‘s theme song blared loudly through the entire place, the former giving me flashbacks to spending way too much time in the arcade within Shenmue, playing Hang-On and Afterburner.
- Fumito Ueda got his start with art by somehow managing to find a Commodore Amiga in Japan and using that