80s retro gaming at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney

3 February 2010
9:00 am

This past weekend I got to attend an exhibit at the Sydney Powerhouse Museum here in Ultimo titled "The 80s Are Back." As a child of that decade, the exhibition was nostalgic all around, but Sunday featured several gaming-related things that were fun to watch. As part of a larger retrospective of culture in the 80s, there were lots of arcade machines set up with retro games available for play as well as a large section on various consoles and computer systems that were released back then, such as the illustrious Nintendo Entertainment System and the Commodore 64.

Part of the event included exhibitions for the IGDA Global Game Jam competition that challenged developers from around the world to code an indie game for 48 hours straight as part of local contests. Though the turn out for the Sydney event featured some pretty impressive stuff, GNILLEY in particular was definitely one of the most amusing pieces of the weekend. (You can even hear me cackling madly in the background of that video.)

All of the indie games showcased at the competition are available for download on the Game Jam site, but other stand-outs were "Tentacle Assassin" and "Spy Ware". It was a lot of fun, but the event also had numerous panels with gaming experts as well. The panel on Sunday involved, among others, John Passfield from SubZero Software, who created Halloween Harry. I got to ask him a question related to my recent article on episodic content, since I mentioned Halloween Harry in it specifically. I asked him, as a developer with Apogee Software who had really created the model in the first place, why he thought "shareware" games had really died out. His response was that with the proliferation of the internet the necessity for it has diminished, since people can download demos now and couldn't back then when, outside of BBSes and telnet, internet connectivity was rare and most games were delivered by mail order. As such, shareware or try-before-you-buy has evolved into the freeware and demos that we have today.

In the end, the exhibition was pretty cool to experience. I was just a kid through much of the 80s, so it was neat looking back on all the toys I grew up with having the experiences I do now. Ancillary to the gaming stuff, though, it was interesting walking through the part of the experience dedicated to gay culture in the 80s– being from the US originally but living in Australia now, it was interesting seeing what "being gay" was in another country compared to my own knowledge of our history back in the US.

I took a substantial number of (blurry!) pictures over the weekend which you can check out here if you're so inclined.

Comments are closed.