Great British gaming goes so much further than the console and PC. As a country, we love to celebrate the community and culture outside of the home! With the rebirth of arcades popping up across the country, great E-sports Venues, gaming pubs and even museums. Which has led to the inspiration behind this article series, where we explore Great British gaming Outside of the home. This Month we have gone North to the city of Sheffield, where we checked out the National Videogame Museum. This small venue houses a great collection of video game history, from the birth of arcades to modern classics and Indie Developers' working on gamings experimental and creative future.
What Is The National Video Game Museum?
The National Video Game Museum (NVGM) is more than your traditional museum visit, lined with signs saying "Do Not Touch". Instead, The NVGM is an interactive experience full of gaming greatest hits. The venue is made of one large room, filled with arcade cabinets, classic and modern consoles, experimental and unfinished wonders all alongside exhibits that show gaming's rich history from all over the world. During our visit at the time of writing, there was also a special exhibit for the British indie beat 'em up, Gang Beasts. The exhibit for this game included promotional works, family-friendly activities and a unique insight into the game that you can only truly experience in person. Some of the interactive exhibits within the Museum include Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Bonus Levels, Driving games, and even a handful of games made in Sheffield. The National Video Game Museum is open all through the summer holidays, and during school term, times will be open Thursday – Sunday. You can check out all the times for yourself here. Tickets for the NVGM start at £11 for an adult. With current restrictions and the venue's popularity, booking in advance is a must.
The 3Bit Experience
Thanks to Sheffield's tram service, getting to the NVGM was of very little effort, which drops you off right outside the venue's doors at Castle Square. After a short queue at the allotted time, I was finally in the Museum, where the friendly staff informed all guests about the covid safe rules they had in place. Finally, I entered the Museum, and it was a sight to behold, from the brightly lit glass cabinets, housing gaming's incredible history, to the colourful arcade cabinets featuring games from all arcade generations, all playable for no additional charge, along with all the other interactive exhibits that were spread out across the venue.
The arcade games offered a great selection of classics, from Donkey Kong and Space Invaders to more modern arcade titles, including Dance Stage Fusion and Sonic & Sega All-Star Racing. The range of games playable was great, and your allotted time could have easily been spent on these alone. However, the arcade isn't the only history on display here. As I forced myself away from the arcade cabinets, I moved onto "The Lab", which is described as the "creative core of the NVGM". There were several games to try in this brightly lit section that are either experimental or games that are still in development. One such game caught my eye and drew a crowd from larger parties which was 4 player Pacman. In this experimental game, each player took a direction (Up, Down, Left or Right) and filled the lab with laughter. Along with experimental games like 4 player Pacman, there was also games still in development, including the highspeed shoot 'em up Aerobat by Indie Developer Matthew Yeager, where you could fly through your enemies or shoot them but never both at the same time.
The other interactive exhibits also offered a lot of fun for all ages, as many console games were playable from many generations, including classic Super Mario on the NES, Wipeout on the PlayStation 1, the original Sonic the Hedgehog, and so much more. Console games were not the only kind of game on display either, though, as there was also a version of Donkey Kong with 14 different modes, a range of incredible and unique games made in Sheffield, including Zool and Tanglewood and many more exciting titles, but listing them all here would spoil the discovery of these amazing games for yourself.
As my time began to come to an end, I took the time to enjoy some of the static exhibits too. I even managed to learn a bit. Some of these exhibits included the history of VR, a unique look at Gang Beasts, and even the deep history of piracy amongst gamers. There was something for every gamer to witness and enjoy in the static exhibits, as each cabinet was filled with memorabilia, nostalgia and even a few laughs.
Absolutely, The NVGM and Sheffield are worth a full day trip too. Your time slot is about 2 and a half hours, whilst I wish it was a bit longer, this time slot gives you ample time to enjoy all the interactive and static exhibits on offer at the venue and is a fantastic experience whether you are travelling with friends, family or even alone. Sheffield is an incredibly accessible city with Park and Rides on its outskirts, some of which will even include a tram pass within your parking ticket. The Tram will take you directly to the Museum and from there the day is yours to enjoy. Along with The NVGM, you can also check out some of Sheffields independently-run gaming stores. Two great stores I visited during my trip included The Vault, which sells retro consoles, Trading Cards, comics and memorabilia, and Patriot Games, filled with tabletop games and more. Food and drink are also easy enough to find around Sheffield with tonnes of bars and restaurants, including the Sheffield run Marmaduke's.
Even if you are visiting the Museum alone, it is definitely worth a trip to Sheffield to experience the history within the NVGM. You may find your next game to play or even get inspired to create your own! With admission being £11 for an adult, this trip is certainly worthwhile and comes with a special recommendation to families, as the NVGM caters very well to children with educational opportunities available for children both at the Museum and online through the NVGM website.
Will you be checking out the NVGM? Or do you have a recommendation for us to check out somewhere new? Let us know in this article's comments on our Facebook and Twitter pages, or join our Discord and let us know in our community section.
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