The ArtScience Museum Virtual Realms: Videogames Transformed, almost didn't launch on time. Firstly, the pandemic put a stop to its debut last year. Just weeks before its launch, the ship carrying the exhibits became stuck at the 2021 Suez Canal pileup. But somehow, the game-inspired exhibition created by the Barbican in London, co-curated by game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi and Barbican's Patrick Moran, has finally made its world premiere in Singapore.
This review is the first of our new Specials segment where we explore interesting geek-related stuff that have caught our eye.
- 6 exhibits
- Tickets at S$19 (adult), S$14 (concession), S$54 (2 adults, 2 kids)
- Wear comfortable clothing that you can move about in
- Be prepared for cool interactive game experiences
With just six interactive exhibits to choose from, the exhibition isn't all that big. But you'll come out of this with a fresh take on how games are art. The exhibits each convey their own sense of wonder and mystery, with a focus on collaboration. Each exhibit also features its own theme: synesthesia, unity, connection, play, narrative, and everything.
My favourite is Rezonance, made by game developer Enhance and media designer Rhizomatiks. Four players control sound and light by moving a ball around. It's a fun experience, with some secrets to discover, too. If you don't want to play, you can also spend time just admiring the sights and sounds from a viewing gallery.
Tequila Works and The Workers' Book of Sand features an almost 360-degree screen where you can interact with light to explore a story. It's incredibly immersive, almost like VR, but without requiring a headset. David OReilly and onedotzero's Eye, which changes its music selection from the London Symphony Orchestra everyday, is a psychedelic, kaleidoscopic experience that can keep you seated and staring at its numerous changes.
Dream Shaping, from Media Molecule and Marshmallow Laser Feast, sees you swinging objects in real life as you interact with the screen. The idea behind the exhibit is interesting. Instead of controlling something, you become the controller. You can also jump and hit virtual objects with your head (while wearing a tracking helmet).
Then there's the mystical Kojima Productions and The Mill's Wall, which I didn't find quite as impressive. That said, I never got into Hideo Kojima's games. Together: the distance between (us) from thatgamecompany and FIELD.IO, despite its striking sci-fi visuals and sound, felt a little hollow. It looked cool, but somehow didn't quite immerse me compared with the other exhibits.
The ArtScience Museum Virtual Realms: Videogames Transformed runs from June 12 to January 9 next year. The Virtual Realms will then head to Perth, Australia for its next stop. You'll probably spend an hour or so here at most, so be sure to also grab tickets to the other exhibits in the museum if you want to maximise your time.