‘For me, growing up as a human being on the planet Earth in the twenty-first century was a real kick in the teeth. Existentially speaking.’
Wade Owen Watts is the protagonist of Ernest Cline’s 2011 dystopian, 80s obsessed, gamer novel, Ready Player One. Wade is a teenager experiencing the sort of angst-ridden life you might expect of a slum resident, alienated from his peers in the virtual school he attends, only feeling content when free to roam as his alter ego, in armoured guise, Parzival. This is the new everyman.
‘Reading? You are aware that it’s the twenty-first century?’
If my friend is to be believed, I am not that everyman.
I do not lack enthusiasm when it comes to gaming. There is a stack of unopened games beside my console. Each was selected after a painstaking amount of research. Alas, I have spent more time considering and discussing these acquired items than I have spent playing them. As time rolls on and becomes itself a luxury, streamlining your interests becomes imperative. Ironically, I can quote a science fiction novel about a virtual world because I chose to read rather than immerse myself in an interactive RPG. The only reason that this work of fiction spoke to me is a life-long love of gaming and so called geek-ery. My misspent youth assisted my making the High Scores table in Tetris when I visited Barcade in Brooklyn last summer and outlasting, by an arcade mile (two Quarters) the locals who chose to co-op Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with me. I got game. So, whilst I may have preferred to read a hard copy of this than a digital one, I did rate it on Goodreads as soon as I had finished.
To return to the opening quote, ‘growing up’ is no longer so easily pegged to youth. Recent statistics place the average age of the UK gamer around 35. So it is perhaps fitting that the next in the series of adults-only Museum Lates events will be tied into The National Museum of Scotland’s Game Masters exhibit. From the same source, we’re told 40% of game sales in 2014 included digital content, subscriptions, apps and mobile games. Our lives are embedded. I’m curious to take a trip round this event and exhibit and consider technology’s triumph.
This Friday, the 13th (eep!), the Museum will open it’s doors with an almost rude amount of entertainment available for a very reasonable price of £12. The exhibit itself is impressive with talks on game idea origins, cosplay, and physical gaming delivered by industry and academic minds. Vic Galloway shall be compering, the synthetic sounds of The Wild Curve and Happy Meals should appeal to those accustomed to an electronic palette, VJ for the eve is Susanna Murphy and the rest of the evening will be scored by Fresh Air DJs.
Bonus level: there will be a range of consoles and retro games available to play, singstar, a silent disco, facepainting and fruit-arcade themed brooch making taking place.
Someone is going to have to drag me off of Asteroids tomorrow night…