More than 160 consoles fill a warehouse-sized room on the museum’s first floor, into which visitors are unleashed for 90-minute sessions. Though there is a danger of there being too much choice and too little time, there is method in the madness, with games grouped into bite-size sections. Lego games, driving games, Disney games, fighting games, Sonic and Super Mario games — pretty much all your bases are covered.
Between the groups of games are sections organised by console, including the latest generation in Xbox and Playstation alongside PC games, both contemporary and classic. If you’re wondering why people are queueing near the entrance, there’s a D-box seat in the corner offering visitors the experience of a virtual reality rollercoaster.
The event isn’t all fun and games. There’s an educational aspect too, with a video game timeline running down one stretch of wall, visualising the extraordinary transformation of the gaming industry. Some of the standout consoles include a 1984 Anstrad CPC from Lord Alan Sugar’s company, one of the first cheap home computing consoles; a 1986 Nintendo NES, whose significant advancement on its contemporary competitors is immediately apparent; and a 1995 Playstation, the console that sold 100 million and made gaming mainstream.
Impressive as the selection is, the consoles aren’t the only appeal of this gaming bonanza — the museum has taken steps to recreate an authentic gaming experience, with low lighting, dynamic background music and a selection of pizza, beer, ice cream and sweets on offer. There’s also a selfie station near the entrance filled with props from both retro and contemporary games. While the event is family-friendly, adult-only sessions will run on some evenings, allowing visitors to participate in activities such as the 16-player Halo bank.
The only drawback? So much computer power mixed with so many excited people means a whole lot of heat pumping into one room. Just thank your lucky stars the British heatwave seems to have passed…
Power Up is running until August 7th at the Science Museum
Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2DD +22 870 870 4868