It is only a few minutes walk from George’s Fish and Chip Kitchen, where I left you last time, to The National Video Game Arcade. This is part of a series on Nottingham, which starts here if you want to follow our weekend. The National Video Game Arcade is an absolute score for Nottingham as the first permanent centre to explore and celebrate video game culture in the world. Everything in there is family friendly too, so no worrying about your 6 year old getting hold of a first person shooter.
I will start with this and a disclaimer, Pong was the first computer game I ever played, and I haven’t moved on much since then, despite marrying someone who works in the video game industry. But it was fun to show my kids what games used to look like, to see their shocked faces, and explain a little of why their Mum never progressed past Tetris. But in my defence, I’ve studied Video Games at Masters level, taught Video Games in secondary school, I might not be a gamer, but culturally I find it fascinating and I was relieved to find the arcade wasn’t just about playing games, although I admit I did have fun with that too.
Our world’s collided a bit at this point, Mr A’s video game company has sponsored Game City events in Nottingham, so he knows Game City’s Director and the man behind the arcade, Iain Simons who gave us a warm welcome and threw us straight into a hands-on family activity. Game City has been festival each year, and Nottingham has really put itself on the map as a centre for the exploration of gaming culture. Game City work in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, Confetti Institute of Creative Media and Nottingham City Council.
When you enter the arcade there is a chalkboard with a list of all the games you can play that day, but this is so much more than an arcade.
Miss L was dying to get on Donkey Kong!
We all loved the more experimental features, I learnt how to jump, in the Jump! exhibition, so watch out kids! In one area you can make music out of a fruit circuit. I loved that the gallery has experimental set ups, and exhibits you might expect to see in an art gallery, as well as museum and game arcade elements.
When I taught Media Studies my students always wanted to know more about being an artist or game designer. Both my kids loved designing a character for a game. The best bit is it actually shows up in a real game you can play afterwards.
Here is a mad pair of cherries that L drew loading, 8yo L was really excited to have designed her own game character. Mr G let his Dad take on his monkey character and then dashed off to find the Minecraft room.
Here she is fighting against the mad cherries she created in the game! Their characters will be a permanent part of the game now – how cool is that? There are plenty of really friendly staff on hand to help, great if like me you need it, but also great for kids too.
Next we explored the gallery of 100 objects that help to tell the history of video games. Mr A tells me Uridium is an old classic spectrum game, and G has a very early virtual reality headset on. Mr G thought this museum piece was ‘awesome’, I can’t remember what it showed now, I snuck a look after he finished, some kind of punching weird gorillas or dinosaurs maybe, but it was just about the right level of virtual reality for me!
Miss L was desperate to work out the ZX Spectrum. Brings back fond memories of watching my brother as a young boy. It was also Mr A’s very first computer. I am glad she is less phased by technology than I was at her age.
You can have a really great visit for a couple of hours here, or you can stay a lot longer and have some proper game play in the numerous booths, lounges and side rooms. Mr A wants to return on his own, and with each child separately so they can really get to grips with it. He was in his element, bringing back many memories of a childhood well spent playing games.
If like me, your are not a big gamer, I would definitely still recommend a potter, it is fascinating to learn about games, and there is lots to explore and play with together as a family. You can also check out the Toast cafe, a private and family friendly roof terrace space – quite a score in the city centre, plus it has a wide selection of speciality breads from local artisan bakery Hambletons – which I promise makes the most incredible bread. If you really need to leave them to it, check out Nottingham’s amazing shops, or Nottingham Contemporary art gallery, or if you are child free and it is past 5pm, pop next door but one to the BoilerMaker for a cocktail. It looks like a boiler shop from the front, but I promise you it isn’t.
Have a look at our day in action in this one minute clip!
Need to know
National Video Game Arcade, by Game City, Nottingham.
Family Ticket – 2 full price and 2 concessions or 1 full price and 3 concessions: £25
Adults £8.50 Children £6.50 Under 5s free.
There is also a membership option for regular visitors.
This is part of a series on Nottingham, which starts here. Featured places –
Find out about Sherwood Hideaway luxury lodges.
For information on things to do, places to stay in Nottingham, visit Experience Nottinghamshire @experiencenotts #lovenotts
A vote in family fun would be amazing Px