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Art & Culture

Bologna: Videogame Art Museum, a computer geek’s paradise

30 September 2022

2 minutes

Are video games your life-long passion? What if we told you that in Bologna you can travel through time and experience the entire evolution of digital technology? We present to you the Videogame Art Museum, exhibiting everything from the first video game in history to futuristic projects.

1. Yesterday and today: a tour through the incredible history of video games

The Bologna exhibition lets visitors browse through thousands of video games developed over the years, starting with the very first, released in 1972. There are themed installations, consoles and computers on display and you can also try out the most popular and iconic among them. Don't worry if you feel a little disoriented: it’s a side-effect of the supersonic evolution of this sector, whose history is preserved in this museum. 

2. When video games become art

Interactive, captivating, relaxing: video games have given us hours of entertainment! But visiting the Videogame Art Museum exhibition space is more than just a fun experience; it is an opportunity to jump back in time and truly immerse yourself in the history and evolution of society and, in some cases, expressions of contemporary art. Detailed information panels describe the first eight generations of consoles and video games from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, while a room dedicated to video projections literally catapults you into the most significant stages in the evolution of the video game

3. Get your head in the game

Feeling the urge to geek out? This museum has you covered, with a “free to play” area offering a huge array of free arcade games –  the video game industry is a fast-moving industry with a turnover of 1.7 billion euro per year, after all.  Among the most popular blasts from the past, they have Space Invaders, Pac Man, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Want to know more? Insert Coin, the non-profit association that manages the museum, promotes cultural, recreational and educational activities, organising special events that offer guests the chance to challenge themselves or take part in tournaments, with over 80 retro consoles and more than 500 video games.

4. Spacewar, where it all began

The Videogame Art Museum in Bologna is home to a fully functioning reproduction of Spacewar, the first ever video game. For the uninitiated, this game, presented to the public on 14 February 1962 at MIT in Boston by its programmer, Steve Russel, centres around the art of combat and the fight between two spaceships. Back then, video games like OXO and Tennis for Two had already been created, but they were simply experiments on electronic circuits. Spacewar was the first to be programmed on a computer. Today, it has been reproduced, together with the old-school monitor and two joysticks.