GameCity is the annual videogame festival which I direct in Nottingham, UK.
It came about through a series of strange alignments, none of which I examine too closely. The basic idea was suggested by the NTI*((The dubiously named Non-trivial Interaction weekend was held in July 2005 and featured a collection of speakers talking about games at the National Film Theatre. Alice talked about it here) project from 2005, and frustration with the problems that videogame events seemed to be overlooking.
This isn’t to suggest for a second that we’ve neccessarily solved any of them, but we are actively engaged in trying.
Mostly, the event is concerned with one question in particular - what should a videogame festival be?
National Videogame Archive
The National Videogame Archive was launched in September 2008 at the GameCity 3 festival. It’s a project that was instigated by James Newman, Tom Wooley (of the National Media Museum) and myself – and institutionally represents a new partnership between Nottingham Trent University and the National Media Museum.
“The Archive is working to preserve, analyse and display the products of the global videogame industry by placing games in their historical, social, political and cultural contexts. This means treating videogames as more than inert, digital code: at the heart of the National Videogames Archive is the determination to document the full life of games, from protoypes and early sketches, through box-art, advertising and media coverage, to mods, fanart and community activities.
At present, the Archive’s activities are focused on determining the range of materials it will seek to preserve, and on exploring and devising innovative and engaging ways to exhibit and analyse videogames for a wide-ranging audience. Our intention is to encourage a debate about what games are, what they mean to the people who play them, and what elements of them should be preserved.”
Back in 2007, Keita Takahashi came over to the festival to deliver the headline talk. I’d seen him at GDCE a couple of years earlier, where he’d mentioned that he was really interested in designed a childrens playground should the opportunity ever present itself. By 2007, initial support for his designing a playground in Nottingham had been found – and, some might say a little prematurely, he announced he was going to be doing so during his speech. This news was received with great enthusiasm by the internet, and he disappeared off to make Noby Noby Boy.
When NNB finally shipped and preparations for GC4 were getting underway, I got back in touch with Namco Bandai to investigate re-starting the project. In 2009, Keita spent a month in Nottingham investigating sites, talking to school kids and college students, investigating real-ale and designing a new playground for Woodthorpe Grange Park. This is very much a work in progress. I’m incredibly excited about it.