Power Up at the Science Museum in London, is as described in one of straplines; A hands-on video game event. This isn’t an exhibition where you go around and read stuff, well you can read some stuff but that’s not where the fun is. The fun is in having the chance to play a wide variety of games and consoles from 40 years of gaming’s evolution all in one room. Ever wanted to own a SNES, Mega Drive and Atari Jaguar when you were a kid but couldn’t afford it? Well this is a chance to make up for it. Playing a 3DO for the first time having wondered what it would be like for 20 years was great.
The event is made of a few sections: Games linked by theme through consoles, so you can see how far batman games have come, from side scrolling beat-em ups to the Arkham games. Multiplayer experiences also feature, from bomberman to an impressive set up of Halo 3 along. There’s also a couple of VR experiences that show what gaming is currently experimenting with.
A clear favourite for us though was a wall where they had lined up a history of gaming devices. It starts out with a Binatone, which dates back to the 70’s and features Pong, and goes all the way up to the last console iterations. On the way you can try out a Spectrum, Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Dreamcast, Saturn and more.
There’s a few things about seeing all these consoles together that make it really special.
- You can easily see how far gaming has come in it’s history, not only graphically but in gameplay.
- There’s just as much to take from the evolution of gaming peripherals as there is from the consoles themselves. Going from twisting knobs to clicking joysticks, games pads that are rectangular, to today’s well iterated and ergonomic examples
- There is something to play on all the consoles, so you can experience something from all of them. All the games were fun, so you know it really is all about the gameplay, not the shiny graphics.
Whether you grew up with games from the beginning, or near the beginning like us, or are just starting out there is something to appreciate in seeing a wide variety of it’s past all in one room. Because it is hosted in the science museum there was a certain feeling that it was missing a bit of narrative or commentary to hold the whole event together, but maybe that’s just our preconception. It certainly doesn’t stop us from recommending this as an event for everyone, whether you are a gaming novice or veteran.
Power Up runs until Sunday the 7th of August and runs in 90 minute sessions, some Adults only sessions are available, booking in advance is recommended.