New exhibition at Urbis: Videogame Nation

For Immediate release: 11 February 2009

Videogame Nation

Urbis, Manchester

14 May - 20 September 2009

Manchester's stunning contemporary exhibition centre Urbis encourages visitors to grab the controls with a new exhibition that celebrates the best of British video gaming from its birth in the 1970s to the present day.

Videogame Nation brings together games spanning the last 40 years, from 'Manic Miner' (1983) to 'Grand Theft Auto IV' (2008), taking players on a thrilling ride through the UK's gaming generations and tracing the journey of computer programming from the hidden realm of the bedroom to what has become a multi- billion pound industry.

Interactivity is the name of the game as visitors to Videogame Nation will be able to play early games such as 'Jetpac' (1983) for the BBC Micro or 'Jet Set Willy' (1984) on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in an authentic bedroom setting.

Visitors can also try their hand in a seaside-style arcade; take a seat ina football stadium to play 'Sensible World of Soccer' (1994), the first video game to cover the entire professional football world in one game; or loiter in a bus shelter to witness gaming on the go with handheld games.

Games on show will both thrill the tech-heads and enlighten the uninitiated, enabling visitors to learn fresh facts and discover games they don't know. It will highlight the innovative hardware produced by British companies, from the ZX Spectrum (1982) - one of the first mainstream home computers in the UK - and its competition at the time, the Amstrad CPC, while tracing the transformation of gaming with innovations such as the Nintendo DSi which has yet to be released outside Japan.

David Crookes, consultant curator of Videogame Nation and a leading writer on UK gaming, comments:

"Gaming has become a hugely significant part of many people's lives worldwide and this exhibition highlights the contribution British developers have made to the industry and the cultural influence it holds today. Right from the very beginning when games were produced by people in their bedrooms, imagination has been at the forefront but with the powerful consoles we have today, that creative thought is being unleashed like never before. Visitors to the show will see just how far the industry has come and that games are limited only by our imaginations."

British gaming companies and designers have led the way with imaginative and exciting concepts, many of which will be shown in the exhibition including the pioneering platform game 'Manic Miner', and space trading computer game 'Elite'

(1984). Games which many assume to be American but are firmly British will be on display. 'GoldenEye 007' (1997), developed by British company Rare, was the first game to successfully bring the first person shooter genre from PC to console, while Edinburgh based Rockstar North produced trend-setting 'Grand Theft Auto III' (2001), popularized 3D go anywhere, open city gaming and was one of the first gamesto feature a working in-car radio as well as on-air chatter that would coincide with events in the game's story.

'Tomb Raider' (1996) was developed by Derby based Core Design and 'Little Big Planet', was developed in 2007 for the Sony Playstation 3 by the award winning studio Media Molecule who are based in Guildford.

The vanguards of the gaming age in 1980s Britain were often talented teenagers. Richard and David Darling were just two of this new generation, founding their company Codemasters in 1985. Later that year they met The Oliver Twins who started to professionally develop computer games while they were still at school and published their first game, 'Super Robin Hood', for the Amstrad CPC, Spectrum, Commodore 64, Atari ST, Amiga, Nintendo NES with Codemasters. They formed part of the creative core in the industry which has gone on to produce some of the most well known and loved games; 'Daley Thompson's Decathalon', 'LEGO Star Wars', 'Donkey Kong Country', 'Perfect Dark', 'Banjo Kazooie', and 'WipEout' being just a selection from the last 40 years.

These games and their creators are honoured throughout the exhibition with exclusive interviews with developers including point-and-click adventure game supremo Charles Cecil, industry stalwarts The Oliver Twins and David Braben, creator of 'Elite'; original artwork from Oliver Frey, designer for Crash, Amtix and Zzap!64 magazines; framed posters and game guru's biographies - among them Peter Molyneux, Matthew Smith, Jon Ritman, Jon Hare and David and Richard Darling - adding to the collection of memorabilia which will illustrate the history and depth of gaming in the UK.

Pollyanna Clayton-Stamm, Head of Creative Programmes at Urbis said:

"There is no other cultural institution in the UK that can show in one year an exhibitions programme that explores cutting edge contemporary visual art from New York, British gaming and the explosive but often misunderstood phenomenon of Hip Hop, alongside a showcase of the best creative talent emerging from Manchester. Videogame Nation will be exactly the kind of exhibition Urbis has become known and trusted for - a collision of what people would traditionally consider to be 'high art' and popular culture - that confluence of cultures that makes living in cities so stimulating."


For further information and or images, please contact Anys Scoular or Jo Franks at Anita Morris Associates on 01943 603311 or email;

Editors notes:

Urbis is open daily 10am-6pm, closed Mondays until April 2009 Entry to Urbis is free, entry to Videogame Nation is£3 Urbis, Cathedral Gardens, Manchester, M4 3BG

Tel: 0161 605 8200

1. Urbis examines, explains and celebrates city life through the experiences

and cultures of the people living there. It is about city lives, city voices and city people. With four floors of evolving displays, dedicated to the modern and future city, and an ambitious events programme, Urbis is about covering what's new, original, and interesting about city life, and covering it first.

2. David Crookes is the consultant curator of Videogame Nation. He is also a

journalist, having started his career writing for Amstrad Action in 1993. To date, his games writing credits include GamesTM, Retro Gamer, X360, Total PC Gaming and PLAY. He has also been news editor of Nintendo magazine NRevolution and his work is currently included in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2009. He has produced work for legendary videogame publisher System 3.

3. Vidoegame Nation is supported by Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo, Console

Passion and Insight who have all provided valuable content for the show.

4. Media partners for Videogame Nation are Imagine Publishing and BBC Radio

Manchester. Imagine Publishing is one of the UK's fastest growing consumer specialist publishers. Formed in May 2005, it now publishes 20 magazines and 23 websites in the videogames, computing, entertainment and photography markets.

BBC Radio Manchester is Manchester's radio station and has been serving the city since 1970. It is proud to support Urbis and its exhibition programme of popular and contemporary culture.

5. British Gaming facts according to the BBC's New Media Research team:

• The average gaming age is now 23+

• 38.2% of the UK population is an active computer gamer

• 51.2% of British men and 25.1% of British women aged 10-35 play games


• The average computer gamer has been playing for over 10 years

• On average, gamers play for 11 hours per week

• 27.2% of all active gamers in the UK are women and it is growing year-on-


• The average age of the UK female gamer is 30-35 years old

• Britain is the fourth largest producer of games in the world, behind Japan,

North America and Canada

• A game typically costs£10m to£20m to make in UK, often with over 100

creatives from all over the world contributing to the making of the game

• 609,000 copies of Grand Theft Auto IV were bought in the UK on launch day -

the fastest selling UK game ever

• More than six million copies GTA IV were bought worldwide during the first

week of sale, earning the game's publishers, Rockstar Games, around£200m

4. The videogame industry brings in upwards of $6billion per year. (Tom

Mainelle, PC World writer)

5. In 2004, American video game Halo 2 grossed $125m in its first day of sales

(David Crookes), by comparison, in cinemas the same year the highest weekend opening in the US was $108m for Shrek 2 (

6. Manchester's history in computers and gaming goes back to 1948 when the

University of Manchester created BABY, the first machine to contain all of the components we now regard as characteristic of the basic computer. PlayStation 3 game 'Resistance Fall of Man', which is included in the over 18 restricted area of Videogame Nation, hit the headlines in 2006 with the inclusion of scenes set inside Manchester Cathedral.

7. Media Molecule won the Studio of the Year award at the Spike Video Game Awards, 2008

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