Classic Video Games Ready for Rematch at New Museum of Moving Image Exhibit

By Jeanmarie Evelly on December 12, 2012 7:21am 

ASTORIA — Gamers will be flocking to this museum exhibit faster than you can say "up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start."

Game geeks are in for a treat at the Museum of the Moving Image's new video-game exhibit, where they can try their hands at 20 playable video games ranging from the earliest video game ever developed to "Halo 4."

"Spacewar! Video Games Blast Off" examines the evolution of the video game since its debut half a century ago, and includes games from over the years for visitors to test out — ranging from arcade classics and Atari favorites, to multi-player interactive games from the current day.

The exhibit is a tribute to "Spacewar!", the first digital video game ever created, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

"Since the museum's opening in 1988, video games have been central to our mission,”
said museum director Carl Goodman in a statement. “The games in this show reflect the
vast diversity of the medium, from classic arcades to the latest console extravaganzas."

"Spacewar!" was introduced to the public in 1962 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Science Open House, created by a group of students and researchers as part of a demonstration for the Digital Equipment Corporation's Program Data Processor-1 (PDP-1), one of the earliest computers, a working model of which will be featured in the museum's exhibit.

The premise of the game was simple: Two players use joysticks and take command of triangle-shaped, on-screen spacecrafts, with the objective of shooting out the opponent's ship. The Museum of the Moving Image credits "Spacewar!" for influencing many aspects of video-game culture over the last several decades, including the popular themes of science and space, and the central role that shooting plays.

The exhibit was curated by John Sharp, a designer and art historian who teaches games and learning at the School of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design.

“'Spacewar!' set off a seismic rumble in the early computer science community, the ripples of which are still felt today in the game industry, academia and player cultures," Sharp said in a statement. "It even inspired the first coin-operated arcade game, as well as industry pioneers like Nolan Bushnell, a co-founder of Atari.”

Other games featured in the exhibit include "Yar's Revenge" on Atari (1981), "Metroid II: Return of Samus" on Gameboy (1991) and more recent games like "Super Mario Galaxy 2" on the Nintendo Wii.

"Spacewar! Video Games Blast Off" will be on view until March 3.

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