The National Motor Museum in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia was this month awarded a $125,000 grant from the Australian government to create “REVolution: where pixels meet motors – an interactive history of video gaming and motor culture”.
The museum’s director Paul Rees said he first had the idea for the exhibition while watching his 15-year-old son playing motor racing video games.
“I thought ‘this is part of motoring history – how people interact with motoring culture through video games, there’s an exhibition in this,” he said.
“We are looking at the early days of racing in modern culture and the influence on video games from motorbikes to motorcars. At the same time we’ve looked at the dashboards of modern day cars and we want to also explore how video gaming has informed the modern car and the modern driving experience.”
Early racing video games in the 1970s included Atari’s Gran Trak 10 and Sega’s Monaco GP.
The 1980s and 1990s saw the introduction of top sellers such as Pole Position, Out Run, Mario Kart, Daytona and Gran Turismo.
“We can’t ignore GTA (Grand Theft Auto) – it’s much maligned but much loved as well and as a museum we have a duty to look at everything,” Rees said.
The museum is working with Adelaide-based tech company Novus Res, who will develop a program to allow visitors and school groups to create a simple motor racing game based on some basic coding techniques.
“The idea is to introduce people to basic computer programming by saying ‘you can whip up a game here in five minutes’ and then allowing them to take that game home somehow.”
The National Motor Museum is run by History SA and attracts about 60,000 visitors a year to its extensive collection of cars and automobile collectables in Birdwood, South Australia. The museum has already tinkered with the video game idea by setting up racing games on consoles as part of its school holiday programs.
Rees said the upcoming exhibition would be on a much grander scale and would be more of a “fun history lesson”.
He said he hoped the interactive exhibition, due to open in December 2017, would also give a large percentage of the museum’s traditional visitors a better understanding and appreciation of video gaming.
“It’s really going to be for anyone who remembers the earliest games but I really think this is going to come into its own as an education program working with students,” he said.
“There’s a lot of science technology, engineering and maths that can be taught through video gaming, especially as people want to move into the creative industries.
“But also, there’s going to be a bunch of people who go ‘wow I remember this’ just like they do now when they come in and say ‘that was my first car’ now it will be ‘that was my first game’.”