The Centre for Life is always a place I enjoy taking my son. The exhibitions change regularly and in the past we have experienced dinosaurs, visited the Maker Faire and enjoyed their regular exhibits. Recently I was lucky enough to win a family ticket to visit the Centre for Life from Raring 2 Go and this half term took my son and his friend. At the moment the Game On 2 exhibition is on which features the largest collection of playable computer games from the past 60 years. I was really looking forward to visiting and finding out more.
These days children grow up with technology, most teenagers have a smart phone and can access the internet on the go. They are familiar with the world of on demand entertainment, movies can be downloaded to the television at the touch of a button and they spend many hours watching silly videos on you tube. It is normal to aspire to become a you tube star and they often make their own videos on the phone. Computers are common place in the home and video game consoles get more advanced all the time.
Entering Game On was like winding back time to when I was a child. When I grew up there were three channels on the television. Children’s programmes were limited to an hour each day, we used to come home from school and watch Record Breakers, Jackanory and other programmes. In the school holidays there was an extra hour in the morning where we got to watch Flash Gordon, Tarzan and Why Don’t You. Computers and computer games were not commonplace until the early eighties. We thought pong was really advanced and would spend hours knocking a ball around on the screen.
I remember being really excited when we got a ZX-81 and could play computer games. Most of them were text based games and they had to be loaded onto the computer using a cassette recorder. Arcade games were really enticing at the time. Pac Man was my favourite and I must have spent many hours and lots of money perfecting my technique. Space Invaders was a revelation, the aliens drumming faster and faster as they moved down the screen added to the excitement.
The array of games on display at Game On was amazing. From Pong to Pac Man and Donkey Kong, all my old favourites were there. My son and his friend were bemused at first, complaining they did not know how to play. They soon got stuck in and were fascinated. The games held their attention and they wanted to try them all. There were queues but people were aware that others wanted to play and moved on quite fast.
It was fascinating to see the old computers still working and it made you realise how much technology has progressed. It was quite funny to see some of the technology, like the hand held games, and realise that I still had some of this in my house. A prime example was the Merlin game, a hand held computer game that used to play noughts and crosses and other games using a grid of flashing lights. This was so high tech at the time but now it is gaming history. It was also interesting to see the art work and design behind a lot of the different games. It makes you realise how much thought must go into them.
We really enjoyed our day at the Game On exhibition and did not see much of the rest of the Centre for Life on this trip. We did go on the 4D Motion Ride which was a spooky Halloween ghost train and was lots of fun. I would have liked to have visited the Planetarium but the queues were too long. The Game On exhibition is on until 3rd January 2016 so there is still time to visit.
Have you been to Game On? What did you think?