We visited PLAY it! at the Museum of Science and Industry on the opening day for a family gaming session. The exhibition was quite simply a gamer's paradise, providing a huge range of games and consoles from the past 30 years for some hands on gaming action.
The event room at the MOSI is divided into six zones:
Zone 1: Retro Gaming - retro to modern computer games and consoles
Zone 2: Manchester - including games programmed by Ocean Games and the 80s classroom
Zone 3: Rhythm - music and dance based gaming
Zone 4: Minecraft
Zone 5: Celebrations - film, TV and character based games
Zone 6: Lounge - multiplayer gaming
Favourite gaming franchises such as Sonic, Mario, Tomb Raider, Star Wars, Street Fighter and LEGO games are represented in all their glory on a range of consoles. It was really interesting to see the evolution of characters such as Lara Croft across the different formats. We remembered having several of the games and it was very nostalgic having a play.
The Minecraft area was a real hit with Freddy who spent the time learning how to play the game on the PC rather than on the PS3 that he has at home. He got lots of tips from the other kids in the Minecraft zone.
I loved watching him concentrate so hard on mining, building, taming animals and blowing up his Minecraft world! Minecraft is such a phenomena, it was great to see it have its very own zone.
I introduced Kezia to some of my old favourites including Crash Bandicoot on the original Playstation. We also had a go at the Mega Drive, the Nintendo 64 and the SNES. There are plenty of consoles so we never had to wait for a go on anything. We just found a free spot and jumped in to try it. Although there was a lot of serious, hardcore gamers around, we never felt at all intimidated or embarassed by our lack of skill, in fact there were plenty of people willing to lend a hand or offer advice when we were obviously struggling due to our lack of gaming prowess.
Kezia and I had some fun at the selfie table, trying on Mario and Luigi hats. It was a bit of light relief from our attempts at gaming. and donning the iconic headgear definitely made us feel the part!
There is a cafe area selling drinks and snacks including some brilliant gaming cupcakes. The guy who served us told us the legendary story of when Atari tried to make an ET game after the release of the film, which was so rubbish that the whole lot was resigned to landfill. This became the stuff of urban legend until many years later when thousands of the games were unearthed when the land was being developed! The chocolate cupcakes played homage to this tale. Comfy seating allowed us to have a nice rest while we sampled a drink and one of the cakes.
Seeing the range of games and consoles makes you realise just how far the gaming industry has come, from the old original video consoles such as the Spectrum and the Commodore, right up to the most modern, contemporary games. The advancements over the last thirty years really are quite mindblowing. When I had my first console, the Intellevision, back in 1979, I could never have imagined what my own kids would be playing in the future.
The nostalgia of seeing the Sega Master System and the Mega Drive made my day, bringing back many memories of a younger me playing for hours and hours. I used be quite good back in the day, but the advancements in technology saw my skills lag further and further behind. These days I leave it to the kids, but I enjoyed this trip down memory lane.
With individual 90 minute sessions costing just £4 and full day passes £10, PLAY it! is a great opportunity to experience some blasts from the past as well as trying your hand at some modern gaming. Whether you are competitive and looking at taking on other seasoned gamers or if you are like me and looking for a nostalgic way to revisit your youth, it is well worth a visit.
Find out more and book at: www.mosi.org.uk/whats-on/play-it-manchester