Computer and video games have been around for about 50 years. The creative branch of game design has grown rapidly in conjunction with developments in computer performance. Games and their creators are no longer just a driving force in the entertainment industry. Ingeniously designed games now have an impact on art, theatre, and film, as well as education, therapy, and research. The Game Design Today exhibition at Zurich’s Museum für Gestaltung, which runs until July 23, takes a comprehensive look at contemporary computer game culture, from blockbusters to small studio productions to the medium’s experimental frontiers. Many of the games are playable during the exhibition. Visitors can, for example, train their fitness while playing, interact with the content in a group, or sing in a choir with game characters.
The show offers in-depth insights into the design processes and working methods of international productions and shows “how games deal with socially pressing issues such as diversity, the climate crisis, research, migration, or the interface between people and technology” in order to take a differentiated look at the medium with its many facets and qualities. In his work “Painting,” Greek artist Theo Triantafyllidis, for example, consciously plays with gender stereotypes in video games and makes queer culture visible. The Swiss start-up Sphery stands for “an innovative design approach in which research and development go hand in hand for an interactive movement game. They have long addressed competitive athletes or patients who want to train their motor skills and mental fitness at the same time with their immersive fitness game environment “Exercube,” which combines physical and mental training. Other examples include the anti-war game “This War Of Mine,” which depicts the oppressive everyday life of civilians in war and was recently included in the curriculum of a Polish upper school, animated films with dark humour by the Swiss duo Mario von Rickenbach and Michael Frei, the iPad game “Plug & Play,” and the unconventional game mechanics of “Terra Nil” by the South African studio Free Lives, which advocates mindfulness and resource conservation.
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