Opening this September, Video games: Design/Play/Disrupt celebrates the innovative and rapidly changing design field of video games, in what will be the first exhibition of its kind.

Video games: Design/Play/Disrupt explores video game design since the mid-2000s, when major technological advancements, such as increased access to broadband, social media and newly available means of making, transformed the way games were designed, discussed and played.

Split into three sections: ‘New Designers’ will examine the design inspirations, craftsmanship and creative practice behind a series of individual games. Rare glimpses from the creative process of developing the games The Last of Us, Splatoon, Journey, Bloodborne, The Graveyard, No Man’s Sky, Kentucky Route Zero and Consume Me will be shown, including original prototypes, early character sketches, research, notebooks and studio photography.  The games featured in this section are united by their commitment to explore new ground, whether through visual, character, narrative or gameplay design, driving the medium forward and expanding our conceptions of traditional video game design.

‘Players’ celebrates the dazzling imagination and collaborative creativity shown by video game players in real and virtual communities, transcending the role of the designer to democratise design on a vast scale. This section includes a double-height space featuring a dramatic and immersive installation that will focus on games such as League of Legends and Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch, exploring the role of the player as co-creators. ‘Players’ will highlight examples of fan art and cosplay created by enthusiasts from Overwatch, alongside the mass spectacle of esports tournaments such as the League of Legends World Championships. ‘Players’ will also examine the rise of the grassroots DIY arcade scene, showcasing handmade arcade cabinets and interactive installations of spectacle and performance made by enthusiasts and creatives from around the world.

The ‘Disruptors’ section explores how contemporary designers, players and critics are pushing the boundaries of gaming culture in playful and radical new ways. Video games have the potential to consider complex and sensitive subject matters such as representation, race, sexuality and geo-politics. Here ideas about what video games are, and what they should be are challenged – as well as how this relates to society as a whole. A selection of works will illustrate such themes including how do you Do It?, a semi-autobiographical game by Nina Freeman which tackles the discovery of sexuality through dolls and Phone Story by Molleindustria, a satirical mobile video game which invites players to consider the negative effects of their consumption in a globalised world.

Curator Marie Foulston on the exhibition:

“We want Video games: Design/Play/Disrupt to challenge your perceptions of what video games are and what they can be, whether you are a seasoned player or a novice. We hope to convey the scale, ingenuity, invention and potential of one of the most fascinating design fields of our time.”

Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt opens on 8 September 2018 and runs until 24 February 2019. Tickets cost £18 and are available now from vam.ac.uk/videogames.