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Digital Legacy

Steve Haske | 26 Jul 2011 19:25
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With over 100 playable games across a variety of consoles and platforms, 2.0 is quite extensive, but as a family friendly show, many Mature-rated games (otherwise given a PEGI 18 rating in the UK) are left out of the equation, something Hitchings said isn't a problem most of the time. "You don't have to rip people's heads off to make a fun game," he said, citing Alan Wake, Halo and Half-Life as having PEGI 15 ratings. The show's self-imposed guidelines means one of the industry's most influential games, Grand Theft Auto III, has to be left out.

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"It was such a groundbreaking game when it came out," Hitchings said of GTA. "But it's really hard to show with any content that isn't going to offend someone."

When asked about Doom, which is noticeably absent from the OMSI exhibition, Hitchings said that was simply a planning hiccup, noting that id Software's groundbreaking FPS, which has a PEGI 15 rating, is usually among 2.0's regular roster.

"I think Doom nowadays is seen [as] ... not as bad," he said.

Underrepresented genres like horror and RPGs are also somewhat missing from 2.0 - the former for violence and the latter because role-playing games don't lend themselves well to the pick-up-and-play format Game On uses.

With such a wide variety of games, it may be hard to believe that Game On's origins were far less ambitious. Originally planned as just an art show with a handful of actual games on display, Hitchings, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of videogames, was still working in a specialty game shop in London when that changed in 2001.

"Lucien King [of Rockstar Games London] came in and talked to me, he was very impressed by my knowledge of videogames," Hitchings said. "He was impressed with the fact that I could talk to him about games, give him a basic history of a number of games and consoles and so forth - he basically said, 'I want you for Game On.'"

King had previously planned on doing a show similar to Game On with the National Museum of Scotland, and because museums keep tabs on each other, King and the then-curator of the Barbican, Conrad Bodman, decided to pool their resources. Once King found Hitchings, everything else fell into place.

"We persuaded the Barbican to actually do the show, and have maybe over 100 playable games, because they probably could do it," Hitchings said. "We basically went from there, and Game On was born."

With as successful as the show has been, Hitchings doesn't see Game On stopping anytime soon.

"When we started [this], we thought, 'We'll tour a few venues and that'll be it. 2002 to maybe 2004, finish,'" he said. "We're now in 2011. We have two shows running concurrently, we have other venues interested in the show. So I think we'll probably be touring for at least another ten years."

Photos courtesy of Suji Allen.

Steve Haske is a Portland, OR-based gun-for-hire journalist whose work can be found in Gamepro, EGM, Eurogamer and Paste magazine, among other places you've probably heard of. When not actively writing he also regularly co-hosts the A Jumps B Shoots podcast and can be tweeted @afraidtomerge.

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