Hello! We are The National Videogame Museum
On November 24th, we’re opening the National Videogame Museum in Sheffield. You might know that we used to be called the National Videogame Arcade, so why change the name?
(Rewind to 2014)
Originally, the project was going to be called ‘GameCity One’. We had a vague sense that we might establish a format for the venue and gradually create more of them at different locations, all with different executions. The early concept was more than a little influenced by the amazing 826Valencia project (if you’ve not seen this video, watch it now. Eggars is amazing).
As we got closer to launch, we ditched that idea (although there was almost a ‘GameCity Air’ at one point…) as it didn’t say enough, clearly enough about what the place was going to be. We were still disentangling brands from the festival at that point too.
We wrestled for some months with the title. We knew we wanted to be a different kind of museum, but we also knew we were attracted to the gravity of ‘museum-ness’ and the kind of fun you can have pushing against that kind of institutional feel.
It was always a close call, but we settled on ‘National Videogame Arcade’. We thought it would be more interesting to reclaim the term ‘arcade’ and play with what that might mean, than defuse the connotations of what ‘museum’ can imply.
With all due respect to museums, we just didn’t feel like we were building a museum back then.
It’s a FUN kind of bank!
In the earliest execution of the NVA, you can see what we were trying to do. We wanted the esteem and pomp of the institution, but pump it full of joy. A Trajan typeface, but describing something FUN! That was always a fairly divisive strategy, and sure enough it caused it’s own share of confusion which you can see us try and resolve over the different marketing efforts of the last three years.
In short, people who loved arcades complained it wasn’t an arcade and people who didn’t really like arcades were confused as to why we would want to call this amazing thing an arcade.
At one point we did a whole series of videos ‘what’s the NVA’ that I filmed over a weekend. Realising we were struggling to explain it ourselves we leant on our customers to help.
Still my favourite description of the project was one that came from an early visitors. “It’s like Alton Towers, if it was run by the BBC”.
A few years later, another visitor commented “It’s like Google, if it was run by a vegan collective.”
So, why change it now?
A few reasons…
Over the last three years, we’ve learnt a lot about what we are, what we do and what people think we are. We’ve spent more and more time in the international museum community, contributing lots of projects like EFGAMP, writing white papers and thinking lots about how to interpret and share games with the public. The skills that we’re developing are those of a museum.
It’s our responsibility to make it the kind of awesome museum we want it to be.
People know what museums are.
As we journey towards museum accreditation, attracting more public funding (we currently have zero) it started to seem crazy not to simplify what we say we are. It’s far easier to explain that we’re an incredibly exciting museum than ‘an arcade, but not the kind you’re thinking of’. A number of members of the BGI board have been advocating this for a while, it makes sense.
As of today, we’re changed.
We are very pleased to meet you and we can’t wait to welcome you the new National Videogame Museum.
It’s coming soon, and you can follow the story here…