Videogames: Design/ Play/ Disrupt | ITSLIQUID

Videogames: Design/ Play/ Disrupt

Art | July 23, 2018 |

 Videogames: Design/ Play/ DisruptImage courtesy of V&A Museum

Videogames: Design/ Play/ Disrupt
Room 39 and the North Court
08 September 2018 – 24 February 2019 | #DesignPlayDisrupt

Videogames: Design/ Play/ Disrupt celebrates the innovative and rapidly changing design field of videogames this autumn, in what will be the first exhibition of its kind. The V&A will explore how contemporary designers, players and critics are pushing boundaries in playful and radical new ways. Rare glimpses from the creative process of developing games such as The Last of Us to Kentucky Route Zero, including original prototypes, early character designs and notebooks, will be shown alongside cultural inspiration from a Magritte painting to a viral cat video.

From blockbuster titles produced by leading studios such as Splatoon from Nintendo, to independents such as Journey by thatgamecompany, the exhibition will show the craft and skill of creating ground-breaking videogame design. These examples will be presented alongside large-scale immersive multimedia and interactive installations from Minecraft to League of Legends and investigations of the social and political issues in the field, offering an insight into the design process, community and culture of videogames.


 Videogames: Design/ Play/ DisruptImage courtesy of V&A Museum


The exhibition will explore videogame design since the mid-2000s, when major technological advancements, such as increased access to broadband, social media and newly available means of making, transformed the way games are designed, discussed and played. With at least 2.2 billion players worldwide, the reach and range of gaming will be examined within creative online player communities who modify games and create fan art; spectators and competitive performers at large scale esports stadium events and surprising spaces of the niche DIY arcade scene. Videogames: Design/ Play/ Disrupt builds on the V&A’s activity as a space for contemporary debate, which actively collects, displays and programmes digital design.


Videogames: Design/ Play/ DisruptImage courtesy of V&A Museum


Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A said: “There is a rich universality to videogames in contemporary culture. This is the right time for the V&A to be building on our active interest in videogames to investigate this exciting and varied design field at the intersection between technology, engineering and broader visual culture, presenting the influences, inspiration and debates that define it. There is a wealth of creativity to explore, from the craft of the studios to the innovation of the audience as players. The exhibition will provide a compelling insight into one of the most important design disciplines of our time.”


 Videogames: Design/ Play/ DisruptImage courtesy of V&A Museum


The first section of the exhibition will examine the design inspirations, craftsmanship and creative practice behind a series of individual games. These are created by a new generation of designers from large established studios to solo independent designers, as well as from a range of other creative disciplines such as new media and music composition. Highlights include character design sketches, a motion capture suit, animations and working notes of the creative director from The Last of Us from Naughty Dog. A visually stunning post-apocalyptic blockbuster, this title is comparable to a Hollywood production in ambition and scope. Other exhibits include prototypes, design drawings and desert research footage from Journey, a smaller independent game, demonstrating how videogames can evoke emotional concepts of friendship, connection, positivity and love. Also shown will be works that have influenced creators such as Magritte’s painting Le Blanc Seing, the inspiration for the parallax scenography of Kentucky Route Zero.


 Videogames: Design/ Play/ DisruptImage courtesy of V&A Museum


Videogames have the potential to consider complex and sensitive subject matters such as representation, race, sexuality and geo-politics. As tools to make games have become more available and distribution has broadened, game designers have begun to engage more widely with social and ethical debates. The next section will present interviews and opinion from influential game makers and commentators who are leading this discussion such as developer Rami Ismail and advocate Tanya de Pass. Here ideas about videogames and what they should be are challenged – as well as how this relates to society as a whole. A selection of works will illustrate such themes including how do you Do It, a semi-autobiographical game by Nina Freeman which tackles the discovery of sexuality through dolls and Phone Story by Molleindustria, a satirical mobile video game which invites players to consider negative effects of their consumption on people in the globalised world.


Videogames: Design/ Play/ DisruptImage courtesy of V&A Museum


The third section celebrates the dazzling imagination and collaborative creativity shown by videogames players in real and virtual communities, transcending the role of the designer to democratise design on a vast scale. The double-height exhibition space in this section will feature a dramatic and immersive installation that explores the role of the player as co-creator. This will show the astonishing feats of engineering and construction undertaken in Minecraft from the recreation of the continent of Westeros in Game of Thrones to the mass spectacle of esports tournaments such as League of Legends World Championships. There will be examples of fan art and cosplay created by enthusiasts who interpret the medium in their own style and create costumes and accessories to represent themselves, or even their pets as characters.


 Videogames: Design/ Play/ DisruptImage courtesy of V&A Museum


The playful finale will look at the rise of the grassroots DIY arcade scene, showcasing handmade arcade cupboards and interactive installations of spectacle and performance. Unusual and remarkable games made by DIY enthusiasts and creatives will be shown such as Bush Bash by SK Games, played in a sedan car cut in half and fitted with a display for two players to shoot and drive. Visitors can also play games such as Line Wobbler by Robin Baumgarten. Created from a custom-made spring controller and a several metre-long ultrabright LED strip display, it was inspired by a viral video of a cat playing with a door-stopper spring.


Videogames: Design/ Play/ DisruptImage courtesy of V&A Museum


The V&A actively collects digital design and is expanding its collection extensively in this area, exploring how videogames as digital objects can be preserved and exhibited. Related activity has included a videogames-themed Friday Late in September 2017 which attracted nearly 8,000 visitors, held in collaboration with a major conference Parallel Worlds: Designing Alternative Realities in Videogames. Other activities have included the V&A Digital Design Weekend which features creators sharing their creative process, workshops for young people about careers in games design, community projects and digital learning programmes.


 Videogames: Design/ Play/ DisruptImage courtesy of V&A Museum


To coincide with the exhibition, the V&A is inviting applications for a Videogames Residency, from 15 October 2018 – 15 June 2019. The resident will be a UK-based artist, designer or maker involved in the videogames scene who wishes to develop their practice through working with the V&A’s curators and learning team to develop new work and engage with the public.


 Videogames: Design/ Play/ DisruptImage courtesy of V&A Museum


– ENDS –


  • Videogames: Design/ Play/ Disrupt will run from 8 September 2018 – 24 February 2019 in Room 39 and the North Court
  • Advance tickets are £18. V&A members go free.
  • Advance bookings can be made by calling 0207 942 2000 (booking fee applies). Tickets released at
  • The exhibition will be accompanied by a new V&A publication and a series of related events, courses and creative workshops
  • Videogames: Design/ Play/ Disrupt is curated by Marie Foulston, Curator of Videogames and Kristian Volsing, Research Curator
  • The exhibition is designed by Pernilla Ohrstedt Studio with AV design by Squint Opera, graphic design by Julia and sound design by Coda to Coda
  • For more details on the Videogames residency, visit


Videogames: Design/ Play/ DisruptImage courtesy of V&A Museum


Design, Architecture and Digital Department
The Department for Design, Architecture and Digital promotes the study of contemporary design and architecture and its impact on society. It also stimulates new modes of collection, curation and public engagement. The department is responsible for the V&A’s Rapid Response Gallery, which displays items collected as evidence of social, political and economic change, forming a permanent legacy of objects that represent the world we live in today.


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