Game On (exhibition)

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Game On is an exhibition organised and toured by the Barbican Art Gallery. The exhibition displays an historical view of video game development from early arcade games to the present. First featuring at the Barbican Art Gallery in 2002, the exhibition is claimed to have been seen by over 1 million people worldwide.[1][2] The organisers state that "[v]isitors will be able to play games dating as far back as the 1960s" and hope to show the cultural impact of games and consoles.[3] The exhibition attracted over 117,000 visitors in Melbourne, Australia in 2008 after previously attracting 99,500 at the Barbican Art Gallery in London and 127,000 in Chicago.[4]

The exhibition's original curator, Conrad Bodman, stated that his goal was to "... look at the history, culture and the future of video games and try to unlock that for the general public" and that "[i]t's been really interesting developing the exhibition because these machines don't exist in public collections. [...] They are the preserve of a small number of collectors around the world."[5] Henry Lowood, at Stanford University, one of very few academics working to preserve video games and their culture, said that "[s]ince the late 20th century, cultural history includes digital game culture. [...] It is not only the case that the history of this medium will be lost if we do not preserve the history of digital games, but also that we will not be able to provide a complete cultural history of this period."[5]

Touring staff with the exhibition include a technician found in a retro games shop in London, who helps maintain the machines as well as help the show expand and grow.[citation needed]


The exhibition has been displayed at:

Currently at Montreal Science Centre, Montreal, Canada (from 15 April 2015 to 13 September 2015)

A review of the Melbourne exhibition stated "Game On presents an incredibly diverse range of items and information to those that wander its floorspace. The exhibition is a great gathering of the cultural items that have created the imaginative alternate worlds gamers have immersed themselves in over the age."[7]

Game On 2.0[edit]

On 3 July 2010, an upgraded version of the exhibition, entitled Game On 2.0, this exhibition expands on the original Game On show and has more exhibits and games. It has been displayed at

At Life Science Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK from 23 May 2015 to 1 November 2015

Games that have been exhibited[edit]

See also[edit]

  • The Art of Video Games - A similar exhibition at the Smithsonian Museum that explores the artistic aspects of video games.
  • Game Masters (exhibition) - A similar exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image that explores key designers of the video game medium.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Game On: The history, culture and future of computer games". Barbican. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  2. ^ "Game on: Play your way through the history of videogames". Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  3. ^ "Video game exhibition announced". British Broadcasting Corporation. 18 September 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  4. ^ "A Survival Guide for Gaming Conventions". National Trade Show Displays. 9 April 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Hill, Jason (8 March 2008). "Museum piece". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  6. ^ "Barbican International Enterprises - Game On". Barbican. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  7. ^ Kalogeropolous, Tristan (6 March 2008). "We visit ACMI's Game On exhibition". PALGN. Retrieved 2008-09-03. 
  8. ^ "Game on for video game history exhibit". ABC News. 3 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  9. ^ "Game On 2.0 – the world's largest exhibition of computer games". Retrieved 29 October 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • King, L. ed., Game on: The History and Culture of Videogames (London, Laurence King: 2002).

[This collection was published in association with the Game On exhibition]