In speaking of history of arcade and video games, it is inevitable to mention its Asian origins. The most defining image of gaming in the U.S. today, home consoles and computers, stems back to when the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) revived the industry in 1985.

“Enfu Party” by Ken Taya, with elements drawn from rhythm games. (Photo by KingYau Li)In speaking of history of arcade and video games, it is inevitable to mention its Asian origins. The most defining image of gaming in the U.S. today, home consoles and computers, stems back to when the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) revived the industry in 1985.

The format in mainstream gaming had not changed since. A data device is inserted into the console, which is then read by the machine and images are rendered on a television or monitor. A player would then react to the images using a controller. But the games themselves had evolved exponentially.

Orchestrated music, fantastic visuals, and enticing stories; video games have the ability to bring them all together. Like all those art forms, as well as films, video games inspire people to create more cultured media and refined expressions.

This is precisely what the Asian Arcade Exhibit at Wing Luke Museum shows. Until June 17, visitors have a chance to view and interact with this powerful medium, and to learn about the changes it can bring.

Visiting students experiencing Pac-Man on an arcade machine older than them. (Photo by KingYau Li)The items on exhibition are highly varied. In one corner a nostalgic Pac-Man arcade machine is on display next to an NES running The Legend of Zelda, all of which are decades old; in the opposite corner “Flower” by Jenova Chen and Nicholas Clark appeals directly to a gamer’s emotions through colors and scenery.

Around the room are some examples of real life impacts from video games. Jin Ge’s “Gold Farmers” documentary runs on repeat, detailing the powerful tales of those who are involved with selling and buying virtual commodities. A few steps away is an artwork from “Foldit,” a puzzle game that taps into its players’ creative problem-solving ability to construct medicines that may overcome today’s incurable diseases.

From the arcade to the classroom, video games had traveled a long way from its beginning. Sitting in a tucked away corner of Wing Luke Museum, the exhibit unveils the hidden potential video games can have in our future.

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