Wednesday, 30 November 2016

(V&A) Parallel Worlds: A New Videogame Design Conference

The V&A has been my first port of call on almost every London trip since moving to Essex. So I got pretty darn excited when this appeared on my Twitter feed:

Wonderful artwork by Sophia Foster-Dimino
I'd excitedly made trips to the V&A in recent months for various exhibitions on things like shoes and underwear, so when I saw this one I grabbed a ticket straight away.

Obviously, the V&A doing a video games conference is fantastic news for people who care about the cultural identity of games, but when I saw just how incredibly diverse, interesting, and impressive the line-up of speakers were, I felt especially enthused purchasing my ticket.

The V&A's curator of Video Games, and organiser of this event deserves untold amounts of praise for arranging these speakers (as do her helpers for making the whole thing run super smoothly).

To be honest, I was already sold on this when I saw that Tale of Tales were going to be speaking at this event. I'd recently backed their kickstarter campaign Cathedral in the Clouds so it would've been cool to chat to them about that and about VR in general. I didn't manage to catch them, unfortunately, but I still got loads from their talk, which had this awesome early-internet aesthetic throughout. It was basically everything I dreamed a Tale of Tales talk would feel like.

It did begin to feel a bit tailor-made for me at this point. As someone fascinated by history, near-future stuff, art, and Tale of Tales, the line-up basically following that trajectory meant I was almost scared to blink incase I missed something. I originally intended to sketch away whilst the talks were on, but I found it impossible to not focus on the speakers. So that's a good sign.

Apex content from Meg Jayanth

The general ethos of the event was exactly as I'd hoped it be. None of the talks pretended as though games, as with all media, exist in isolation from wider culture, society, and politics. It helped that the people saying these things also were the people who had made great games. Not that I think you have to have made great games to form opinions on them, but it's always welcome physical proof that all these nice things that are being said about the eccentricity and meaningfulness of creating games actually mean something. And we can all strive to make great things with these inclusive, expansive and esoteric values on our sleeve.

I really hope the V&A continues to nurture their game curation and exhibition. It would be great to continue on the theme of inclusion by bringing in other exciting voices who lie on the fringes and outside of game development. Leigh Alexander springs to mind.

And maybe one day we'll see something similar at the new V&A Dundee?

Also this was my first experience of the V&A cafe which was the true unsung hero of the day. Hake and butterbean stew <3