Exhibition | 17.01. - 06.09.2020

Games

Exhibition

Around the globe, 2.5 billion people play video games. The exhibition takes visitors on a journey through the 50-year history of electronic games. Initially a fringe phenomenon, games have evolved into complex entertainment media and have become an important part of our culture. The exhibition traces the historical and technical development of video games from amusement arcades to virtual reality, and also explores aspects that are perceived as a concern. Gaming stations invite visitors to immerse themselves in virtual worlds and try out the games for themselves.

Let's play!

Klick on the ball to start.

Guided tours

Th 12.3.2020

19:00 – 20:30 Uhr

Event

Gaming, pros and cons. What does the science say?

Fokus

Th 12.3.2020

19:00 – 20:30 Uhr

Event

Gaming, pros and cons. What does the science say?

Blog articles

Mascha Tobe

18. March 2020

Learning by playing

A brief history of digital gaming in the classroom: from ‘The Oregon Trail’ to ‘Assassin’s Creed Educational Mode’.

Continue

Mascha Tobe

2. March 2020

A piece of video game history hits the auction block

In March 2020, a legendary prototype will be going under the hammer: the Nintendo PlayStation was introduced in 1991, but never made it to market.

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Alexander Rechsteiner

1. April 2020

The worst video game of all time

Atari’s 1982 offering E.T. – the Extra-Terrestrial is widely regarded as the worst video game ever, and has come to exemplify the demise of the company that invented the arcade video game.

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All blog posts

Media

Games

National Museum Zurich | 17.1.2020 - 6.9.2020
published on 15.1.2020

Just a few decades ago, video games were considered nothing more than a techy gimmick. Gaming is now one of the world’s top leisure activities. The National Museum Zurich is now devoting an exhibition to this remarkable phenomenon.

In the space of a few decades, video games have evolved from a techy gimmick at North American universities to a global industry. Between 2016 and 2019, revenues in this still young sector increased by around 22 billion, to just under 123 billion US dollars, making it more successful than the Hollywood film industry.

Today, around 2.5 billion people play these games. That’s one third of the world’s population. The fascination with video games started in the United States in the 1950s. William Higinbotham made it possible for the athletically challenged to play tennis from the comfort of their sofas. The physicist’s ‘Tennis for Two’ was the world’s second video game, and marked the real beginning of the industry’s development. By the 1970s, games had become a credible economic factor. The electronic games found their way into the living room, and were marketed as a family activity. Video games were also catching on in the public sphere. In amusement arcades, they became serious competition for the pinball machines that had been popular up to then. A golden era had dawned: the age of the arcade game. In restaurants, in shopping centres and at airports, people could play games such as ‘Pac-Man’ and ‘Space Invaders’, and many a youngster gambled away his entire pocket money on the popular games.

A decade later, the first LAN parties were held. Gamers met in groups and connected up their computers via a local area network, so they could play together. Sometimes these groups filled entire halls. At the same time, the computer industry developed mobile devices, enabling people to play online and when they were out and about. In the new millennium, video games were finally combined with virtual reality. This complete immersion in the worlds of fantasy play was a completely new experience.

With the rise of video games to become a serious global economic factor, the downsides also became apparent from an early stage. Many games operate with a reward system that can be earned by playing a lot, or bought for money. That creates a problem for young players in particular, and in some instances gambling legislation has been violated. The survival game ‘Fortnite’ is currently the subject of particular criticism. In autumn 2019, parents in Canada brought a class action lawsuit against the manufacturer, Epic Games. The group’s accusation: the game was knowingly programmed to make adolescents become addicted. The verdict hasn’t been handed down yet.

But gaming is like almost everything in life: it’s about finding the right balance. The new exhibition ‘Games’ at the National Museum Zurich traces the fascinating history of the video game, and invites visitors to play for themselves in a setting typical of the time. With that said, let’s play!

 

Mini-game for the exhibition

Images

Description

Key-Visual of the exhibition «Games»

Copyright: Swiss National Museum / Roli Hofer

Description

Tennis for two, 1958

Copyright: Brookhaven National Laboratory

Description

Screenshot Pong

Copyright: Atari

Description

Screenshot Space Invaders

Copyright: Taito

Description

Screenshot Minecraft

Copyright: Mojang

Description

Screenshot Beat Saber

Copyright: Hyperbolic Magnetism

Description

Apple Macintosh Plus 1 von 1986

Copyright: Swiss National Museum

Description

A view of the exhibition.

Copyright: Swiss National Museum

Description

A view of the exhibition.

Copyright: Swiss National Museum

Description

A view of the exhibition.

Copyright: Swiss National Museum

Description

A view of the exhibition.

Copyright: Swiss National Museum

Swiss National Museum press contact

+41 44 218 66 63 medien@nationalmuseum.ch

Exhibition imprint

  • Overall management: Andreas Spillmann
  • Project directors and exhibition curators: Michael Kempf, Selina Stuber
  • Scientific consultancy: Alice Ruppert
  • Exhibition design: Alex Harb
  • Graphics media installations: Etter Studio, Zürich
  • Graphic Key Visual: Roli Hofer
  • Project controlling: Sabrina Médioni
  • Marketing and advertising: Andrej Abplanalp, Anna-Britta Maag, Sebastiano Mereu, Carole Neuenschwander, Alex Rechsteiner
  • Technical management: Mike Zaugg
  • Exhibition installation: Bachir Ezzerari, Marc Hägeli, Mike Roder, David Schwitter
  • Media installations: Tweaklab AG, Basel
  • Preparation and mounting of exhibits: Tino Zagermann
  • Logistics of object: Christian Affentranger, David Blazquez, Reto Hegetschweiler, Simon d’Hollosy
  • Loans: Maya Jucker
  • Cultural services: Stefanie Bittmann, Maria Iseli
  • IT and Web: Thomas Bucher, Pasquale Pollastro, Danilo Rüttimann, René Vogel

Items generously loaned by

  • Ivo Vasella, Zürich
  • Musée Bolo - Museum of Computer Science, Digital Culture and Video Games