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Exhibition: Generation Games

National Waterfront Museum
21 October 2017 – 18 March 2018, 10am-5pm
Cost Free
Suitability All

One man’s collection of computer games consoles is to go on show at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea in a new Generation Games exhibition.

Consoles from every one of the eight generations of consoles so far released in the UK are included in the exhibition, which allows visitors to try out the games of yesteryear.

And how far the concept has come since the gaming console first appeared in the UK in 1973 will amaze those who have grown up never knowing a world without Nintendo.

Samuel Anstee from Caerphilly in south Wales has been playing computer games from a young age, having been born in 1972 – the year the first recognisable console, the Odyssey made by Magnavox, came off the production line. Samuel’s collection includes a rare Odyssey made in that first two-week manufacturing run in the US in August 1972 – the Odyssey reached the UK in 1973.

The history of video game consoles is divided into eight ‘Generations’ and the exhibition features them all. It starts from Generation One - the early 1970s when players would often have to mount a plastic screen on their TV to give some simulation of graphics, draw cards from a pack to give them new tasks and even keep score with a pencil and paper – right up to today’s Generation Eight virtual reality games.

Starting on 21 October, 2017 and running through to March 2018, the exhibition will include a playable version of a game from each Generation, such as Generation Five’s early Tomb Raider, and Tetris on an original 1990 Game Boy, as well as showcasing consoles from across the years.

Samuel was hooked on playing games before he decided to collect the actual consoles. His amazing collection now includes one of every console released in the UK since 1972. With a view to displaying them, he approached Pontypool Museum which has worked with the National Waterfront Museum to put the Generation Games exhibition together. The exhibition will be hosted in Pontypool in 2018.

Andrew Deathe, who has researched the exhibition, says the spread of consoles span the early years “when they were the missing link between board games and computers” right up to the present, speculating on the current gamers’ conversations of what will constitute Generation Nine.  

“One thing that you realise hasn’t changed is the storyline for many games. Even the very simple ones feature elements where one person is trying to blast another, shooting aliens or trying to beat your opponent at a sport like tennis. But now the technology has caught up and is able to give us so much more. I know Samuel sees virtual reality as finally giving him the opportunity to be part of the action – the games are at last able to live up to that promise!”

The exhibition is free thanks to the support of players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. It is in partnership with Torfaen Museum Trust and is grant assisted by the Federation of Museums and Galleries in Wales and MALD (Welsh Government).

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