Need a break from finals? Check out the Game Masters exhibit at the Franklin Institute, about a fifteen-minute walk from either Suburban Station or 30th Street Station in Philly. It’s so close, and is worth the 20-minute train ride into the city!
Attendees can play over 100 different video games, ranging from arcade ones of the 70’s and 80’s to more modern web and console games. Familiar characters and games included Sonic, Star Wars, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Centipede, and more, and there were also concept art, interviews, clips, and biographies of the designers and developers of the games themselves. I’ve never considered myself much of a gamer, but my friend Kara Breeden’18 (pictured below) is and she recognized many of the games which her family owns.
We also enjoyed playing more modern games like Sims, Rock Band, and a Dance Dance Revolution-type game. One of my favorites was Gee Bee by Namco, an arcade game, released in 1978 designed by Tōru Iwatani, who would later create the more well-known Pac-Man. It was almost a combination of pinball and Pong, but with a unique controller. (below)
Don’t worry, our trip was also educational! Many games had old-fashioned graphics and styles that reminded me of some topics we had talked about in my computer graphics course with Professor Dianna Xu. Similarly, there were text-based games like ones we had made for CMSC240 Computer Organization (however, ours were written in Assembly language and did not have the nice User Interface!)
Overall, this exhibit is a great way to blow off steam, learn about the history of some games, have fun while challenging others and yourself, and seeing games that your parents grew up with as well as ones you yourself grew up with.