Video games, museums and theme parks
Two recently announced videogaming-focused initiatives handle interactive entertainment from opposite but complementary points of view. The first one, pretentiously defined Game Nation by its sponsoring company, aims at making a theme park of video games for videogamers, while the second one is Italy-driven and as much ambitious considering that its promoters want to create no less than “the first European museum of video games”.
Game Nation is promoted by Ruke Studios, which defines it as “the world’s first Experiential Video Game Theme Park and Resort“. The idea is to carry the player/visitor in some sort of live role-playing game in which there are hierarchies, experience points, NPCs, skills and achievements. “As players walk by – the thin presentation announcement on the Game Nation official site says – recruits are saluted and veterans are bowed down to“. Then comes a stop at the armory to choose the preferred weapon type among “majestic relics, whimsical hardware or advanced gear” and then the immersion in the game itself.
A further announcement appeared on-line presents what should be the distinguishing feature of the Game Nation experience, namely its partitioning in independent “districts” each one devoted to a specific theme. The first announced district is called “The Alternet”, and is set in a cyberpunk scenario where players put their preferred weapon on (“machine gun, ninja sword, double fisted handguns“) and “explore the busy downtown“, complete missions, collect information, “stop massive structures from being blown up“, “fight in war zones the size of city blocks” and more generally they face “an underground terrorist group whose sole intent is the demise of the civilians“.
Even though the information about Game Nation are still scarce, at this point we can take for granted that the project will not involve famed brands of proper video games as an adult and passionate player could hope from a theme park. And contrariwise to what stated by Ruke Studios, video games-devoted theme parks are already out there worldwide even though with different designs than Game Nation. According to what stated on the official site, within the next 12 months GN will reveal the USA location chosen to host the installation.
Going from the USA to Italy, the target of ViGaMus isn’t just entertainment but the systematic and permanent exhibition of “genres, characters, technologies and works” belonging to the forty-years long history of the video gaming medium. Promoted by the Italian Association for Multimedia Interactive Works (AIOMI) with the contribution of national and local authorities, Vigamus will be hosted in Rome in a one-thousand square meters space at the center of the city (Prati district near Piazza Mazzini) with the goal of becoming a point of reference not only for the anaemic Italian video game industry but also (mostly?) for the European and international one.
According to AIOMI president Marco Accordi Rickards, Vigamus represents the first European structure entirely devoted to video games while elsewhere “you can find exhibitions inside museums devoted to other art forms at most“. Vigamus, Accordi Rickards continues, “will have to be a modern and interactive structure, ranging from the flipper and the first experiments made in the Fifties in the United States, up to nowadays“. Next to permanent exhibitions, furthermore, the museum will host “seminaries, projections, publishing and creative workshops and other events distributed during the year” focused “on the relationship between the videogaming medium and other media, in particular cinema, literature and music“.
Inside the space hosting Vigamus there will be also place for the AIOMI’s Center for Study and Research on Video Game, which will serve to “promote projects and cultural, artistic and technological activities, becoming a source of information and training by offering a contribution to the video games industry on the whole“. And that’s an extremely needful promotion, considering that in Italy there is no trace of video games professionals other than the usual “heroes” of Milestone and little more. Other than Marco Accordi Rickards as president, Vigamus organizational team includes the administrator Raoul Carbone and the curator Bonaventura Di Bello.