Once we found it anyways. I guess museums don't want to detract from whatever aesthetic they're trying to create by having a bunch of signs around, but we had a bit of a hard time finding the exhibit. It's on the third floor of the American Art Museum, not in the National Portrait Gallery where we started looking. Somehow, with all the advertising outside of the museum, I kind of thought that there would be a yellow brick path straight up to the exhibit, or at least a trail of yellow Pac-dots that you could follow. Instead, you wander through the Modern and Contemporary Art section (and one of the creepiest statue/mannequin things I've ever seen) to get to the start of the display. You won't miss it once you get close. Just keep looking for the flashing lights of a few hundred TV's.
|You've got to go past her.....|
|To get here.|
Then we got into the games themselves. The first room consists of five stations where you can play video games from different eras on giant projection screens. The games range from the classic (Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers) to the mundane (The Secret of Monkey Island) and includes some critical favorites (Myst, Flower) but all games are suitable for all ages play. Each person's turn is capped at four minutes, and the high score resets to zero after each player, so it's not a matter of trying to embarrass other people with your skills (which apparently fade away some time after hitting 40). If you're interested in playing Monkey Island, Myst, or Flower, you'll probably only have to wait a few seconds. If you're after Pac-Man or Super Mario Bros., you may have to wait through a bit of a line to get a turn. Having been fully deflated by my attempts to defeat my son at Pac-Man in the past, I decided not to bother standing in line, but there's no way my son was letting a chance to play video games in a museum slip past.
If you can tear your kids away from the game play, the last room holds the nostalgia part of the exhibit. All of the major gaming consoles ever made are on display, along with the five most popular games from each platform as chosen by popular vote. This is where the men were separated from the boys. Literally. While anybody under the age of 20 went immediately to the far end of the room to check out the stations representing Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii, the largest gathering was immediately inside the entrance where all the adults gathered around the Atari system and reminisced over games like Space Invaders and Tank Battle. There was even a strange little group gathered at the DOS/Windows 95 display, but I warned my kids to stay clear of that kind of crowd.
|Try explaining to your child why there's only one button on the controller....|