UK’s First National Videogame Arcade
Have you ever thought, “If only there were a place dedicated to the art and history of video games in the UK?”… Well, now there is!
The National Videogame Arcade (NVA), the UK’s first national centre dedicated to video games, opened its doors to the public.
The £2.5 million NVA can be found in Hockley in Nottingham and boasts an array of activities. Across its five floors, you can find interactive exhibits, cinema, café, education space and vintage arcade machine – enough to send every big kid’s heart racing!
And while the exhibits are likely to change and adapt over time, as with any cultural centre, there will be a permanent fixture. This comes in the form of an interactive exhibition called A History of Games in 100 Objects, mapping the history of video games in Britain.
The centre will also be holding regular events and evening classes for those interested in learning how to make their own video games.
But why Nottingham? According to Ian Livingstone, the city was chosen because of its long legacy of gaming. Mr Livingstone is considered one of the founding fathers of the gaming industry in Britain, co-founder of the Games Workshop (which is behind Warhammer) and based in Nottingham. He said that it was about time that the UK had its own centre devoted to video games.
Mr Livingstone pointed out that there is evidence of video gaming around us all the time. From people playing on their smartphones whilst travelling on public transport, or getting home from a long day’s work and turning on their games consoles, video gaming is portable and everywhere.
“It’s not just guys making games for guys,” he added. “There is cultural and diverse content and also diversity in creation, which is more important.”
The games entrepreneur is hoping that the centre will encourage children who want to play games to grow up wanting to make games. “Computer science is the new Latin,” he pointed out. “It underpins the digital world just as Latin did the analogue world, and games encapsulate all the ways in which it marries the arts and sciences.”
The opening of the NVA may have been prompted from the success of GameCity, an annual festival celebrating video games as cultural works. The event started back in 2006, in conjunction with Nottingham Trent University, and with the backing of Nottingham County Council, the event has been going strong ever since.
Jonathan Smith is one of the centre’s director and said that he hopes the place will become a sort of gathering place for people to enjoy the art form, as well as becoming a unique visitor attraction.
He believes video games to be great learning tools for children, not only encouraging social interaction with others, but also creativity and experimentation.
“[Video games] are a part of a healthy diet of different learning techniques and of different activities,” he explained. He added that they played just as important a role as running around outside and making things with your hands.
Jonathan and his colleagues believe, like Mr Livingstone, that the centre could help some children realise their dreams of becoming games developers when they are older.
“Games are made by people who are constantly learning and trying to do the best they can,” he said. “We want to demonstrate that everyone can participate in that process in some way. Everyone can make games.”
Come opening time – 10am on Saturday morning – queues of gamers were eagerly awaiting the doors to open.
“It has been really exciting!” Jonathan exclaimed. “We have invested so much in resources and emotionally. Luckily, we have been able to see the place full of excited people.”
It was hoped that the centre would attract a huge and diverse crowd of people, and that is just what they got. “We couldn’t be happier with where we are!”
If you’re interested in visiting the NVA or simply learning more about it, you can find out more information on its website, here.