Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says this is a great way to thank ratepayers for their contribution to the national museum.
“It’s something we’ve been doing for years in conjunction with Te Papa and it’s immensely popular every time,” says Mayor Wade-Brown.
“Game Masters is particularly exciting for Wellington because we have a creative, digital economy that is made possible by the wealth of programmers who live here.
“Some of the big names at Game Masters might be among some of their heroes, and some of the games might’ve been the inspiration for our new generation of digital wizards.”
The Council’s Economic Portfolio Leader, Councillor Jo Coughlan, says the exhibition has already attracted 42,000 visitors.
“That’s an incredible number of people considering it’s only half-way through,” says Cr Coughlan.
“Te Papa produced a strong digital media campaign, and we know that over half of the visitors to the exhibition during the holidays came from outside Wellington City. As Te Papa is a major economic driver for our city, contributing $91.3 million to the GDP every year, residents can enjoy the free entry, familiarise themselves with the exhibition and become ambassadors for the museum. This helps strengthen our reputation as a destination of choice for other New Zealanders and people from overseas.”
Upon entry to the exhibition, visitors are greeted first by arcade games going back to the 1970s. People can play some of their favourite arcade games for free, including the ground-breaking Space Invaders (Tomohiro Nishikado, 1978) and Pac-Man (Tōru Iwatani, 1980).
Next up is the chance to revisit the icons of the 80s and 90s – Nintendo’s Mario and Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog, on a variety of consoles. Following this is a dedicated space to the TT Games’ lego-meets-the-movies games, as well as to the inventor of ‘God games’, Peter Molyneux.
The spectacle transcends the screen with paper-based work including concept art by Peter Chan in charcoal and pastel, and framed digital prints including work by Kareem Ettouney, Christian Bravery and Mark Healey.
Mayor Wade-Brown says the exhibition is like going back in time and following technological developments in gaming until the present day.
“By the time you get to the present day, you find gaming has become more physically active. Visitors can dance, play simulated guitars, even conduct an electronic orchestra.”
Large game companies are set aside towards the end of the exhibition space, which is dedicated to ‘indie’ (short for ‘independent’) designers. One such designer is New Zealander David Frampton, whose helicopter mission game, Chopper, became an internationally successful iPhone app in 2008.
Game Masters visitors are also given ID bands upon entry, where they can provide their details and remain in contact with Te Papa after the exhibition. If people want to learn more about a particular game, designer or movement, they simply touch a designated pod with their band, and the information is emailed to them. This initiative was developed by Te Papa with their sponsor, HP.
Mayor Wade-Brown says Te Papa’s successful innovations are attracting international attention.
“Te Papa has had visitors from other museums that want to host Game Masters and are now also considering adopting the ID technology. Hats off to Te Papa for their innovation and for showcasing our digital talents to the rest of the world.”
To gain free entry, Wellington City residents must present proof of their residential or ratepayer’s status, such as a bill or rates invoice showing their residential address. This offer does not apply to Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Porirua or Kapiti residents.
Te Papa is open from 10am–9pm on Thursdays. Last entry is at 8.30pm.
Game Masters is at Te Papa until Sunday 28 April. The usual admission charge is $16 for an adult.