We start our tour in the Secret Life of the Home gallery on Level -1. This gallery just so happens to be home to some of the oldest video game consoles, including the ever-popular Pong.
This instantly recognisable tennis-game was outrageously popular in the seventies as it captured the hearts of thousands of first-generation digital gamers. But contrary to popular belief Pong wasn’t the first home games console. A mere two months before Pong crashed onto the scene in July 1972, the Magnavox Odyssey was released.
The Odyssey was a relatively limited console which needed coloured screen overlays to provide different settings. Perhaps most surprisingly of all is that it came with physical game accessories such as a deck of cards, poker chips, and die. Sadly, the Odyssey was not considered a commercial success as by November 1972 it had been eclipsed by Pong.
From this same gallery, we enter the eighties, a decade that saw some of the greatest releases of all time, Pac-Man anyone? During the sunny summer of 1982, Clive Sinclair released the revolutionary ZX Spectrum.
This was ‘it’ for home computing as it boasted ‘vivid colour and sound. High-resolution graphics. And a low price that’s unrivaled.’ Most importantly the Spectrum supported game cartridges. For many, just the sight of this keyboard brings back memories of nights spent in front of the TV playing Space Raiders, Hungry Horace, and Planetoids.
Your trip down gaming memory lane will bring you to the Making the Modern World gallery on Level 0, where you will stumble upon another familiar classic- the Nintendo Game Boy.
Released in 1989 the Game Boy went on to dominate the handheld console market throughout the nineties. Despite being released in black and white it attracted ardent fans with its library of quality games such as Tetris and Super Mario Land, and in 1996 the console was further popularised by the Pokémon fever.
Incredibly, a Game Boy has been to space! In 1993 Russian astronaut Aleksandr A. Serebrov blasted off into space onboard his Soyuz TM-17 rocket with his trusty Game Boy and Tetris game pack. He confessed later that ‘in rare minutes of leisure, I enjoyed playing Game Boy.’
With that, we enter the twenty-first century and with it, we enter a world of online gaming and apps. The Science Museum boasts various interactive games throughout its galleries.
You can design and test your own all-terrain space rover in Rugged Rovers, or create a news-worthy story for your demanding editor in Newsflash. If you can’t make it to the Museum this time, take a look at our selection of online games and spring your way through thirty obstacle-filled levels in Launchball or challenge yourself in Transmission.
Further still, join us at Power UP, located on Level 1, and play your way through 180 consoles and forty years of gaming history.