Nottingham

National Videogame Arcade opens in Nottingham

Donkey Kong arcade game
Image caption The centre has a collection of vintage arcade machines from the past 30 years

The UK's first national centre dedicated to the art and culture of videogames opens this weekend.

The £2.5m National Videogame Arcade (NVA), in Nottingham, celebrates the industry through interactive exhibits and vintage arcade machines.

The NVA follows the success of Game City, an annual videogame festival held in Nottingham since 2006.

Games entrepreneur Ian Livingstone said it was about time the country had a centre devoted to videogames.

Image caption Ian Livingstone CBE (left) takes on a journalist at tennis on one of the many consoles in the building

He said: "We only have to see the evidence all around us, on public transport you see people playing games on smartphone devices, in the home, everywhere we go, it's pervasive.

"The games industry is worth $100bn alone.

"It's not just guys making games for guys, there's cultural and diverse content and also diversity in creation, which is more important."

Image caption The National Videogame Arcade lies in the heart of Nottingham's creative quarter in Hockley

Analysis: Neil Heath, BBC News Online

It is apparent when you visit the centre how, whether you like it or not, videogames are a huge part of our lives. The question is why has it taken so long for a national centre to be set up?

For me memories came flooding back of afternoons spent in seaside arcades by the appearance of vintage arcade games like Track and Field and Donkey Kong.

The staff at the National Videogame Arcade are passionate about the industry and are on a quest to show that it is just as important to the UK as art, film and theatre.


The centre lies in the heart of Nottingham's creative quarter, in Hockley. It has five floors and boasts vintage arcade machines, interactive exhibits, a cinema, cafe and an education space.

Jonathan Smith, one of the centre's directors, said the building would be a "cathedral" for the art form and a unique visitor attraction.

Image caption The centre has an interactive exhibition titled A History of Games in 100 Objects

The industry has often come under fire for the content of a number of 18 certificated titles including Grand Theft Auto.

However, Mr Smith said criticism of gaming was unfair and he hoped the NVA would help change people's minds.

"Videogames are fantastic learning tools for children, they encourage creativity, experimentation and social play with others," he said.

"They are part of a healthy diet of different learning techniques and of different activities which of course includes going outside, running around and making things with your hands, but within that rich landscape I think [videogames] play a really important role."

The NVA is set to open on Saturday morning.

Image caption Mission Control allows visitors to become games-makers by allowing them to press buttons, turn switches and move sliders

Why Nottingham?

It was a question asked by national media during the press day at the NVA and several reasons were given.

Ian Livingstone, who co-founded Games Workshop, which is based in Nottingham, said games had a "long legacy" in the city.

"Games and Nottingham sit hand and hand," he said.

However, the NVA has not emerged out of nothing. Game City, a festival celebrating videogames as cultural works, began in 2006 in partnership with Nottingham Trent University.

The event is still going strong after nine years and has always been backed by Nottingham City Council.


Image caption As part of the NVA's educational offering, visitors are given the chance to make their own controllers out of fruit

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