Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Centipede video arcade games are all back in action and you didn’t have to time travel to the 80s? Yes! Game Masters: The Exhibition just opened at The Fleet and you can relive your glory days with unlimited play of over 100 video games––no quarters required. The 9,000 sq. ft. exhibit showcases the work of the world’s greatest video game designers from the arcade era of yesteryear to today’s mind-blowing technology. Read on for more details!


No Pay to Play Arcade Games
The most thrilling aspect of Game Masters is that it’s your childhood dream come true: endless “lives” to play a video game for as long as you want––without having to keep popping quarters or tokens into the slot. The games range from classic retro arcade games from design giants we all grew up loving: Nintendo, Sega, Atari, etc. Asteroids, Space Invaders and the aforementioned Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and…

… designer/pioneer of immersive, full-body arcade games Yu Suzuki’s motorbike game Hang-On which players can ride on and move as though they’re riding a real bike are all just waiting to be enjoyed.

Games included in the exhibition are all original machines that were sourced from collectors across Europe, Japan and the US and “restored to their former glory.”


It’s Like YOU Are in a Video Game in This Exhibit
A subtle yet brilliant component of Game Masters is that the atmosphere makes you feel like YOU yourself are immersed in a video game. The dim-lit rooms boast bright design elements, neon lights and plenty of primary colors throughout, creating a unique vibe that makes the exciting energy of a video game seem tangible.


The Meaning Behind The Games
There are several educational aspects to the exhibit which showcases the work of 34 of the world’s leading international game designers. The designers are grouped into three categories to demonstrate the shift in video game creation over the 40 years since their inception:

Arcade Heroes: the exciting birth of video games (Toru Iwatani/Pac-Man, 1980) and Tomohiro Nishikado/Space Invaders, 1978) are examples of designers highlighted here).

Game Changers: the rapid creative growth in the field (Nintendo/The Legend of Zelda, 1986) and Will Wright/SimCity, 1989), are examples and this section includes concept art and interviews with the designers.

Indies: the creative possibilities of independent game production (Artists such as Rovio/Angry Birds, 2009) and Markus “Notch” Persson/Minecraft, 2014) are profiled in this section.

Signs throughout the exhibit clearly denote the designers who created each game(s) and give in-depth information regarding their process and backstory.


Siblings of All Ages & Stages Can Get in the Zone
Games run the gamut from being played via keyboard to iPad to handheld devices, to moving your body to control the action on the screen. This allows kids of all ages and stages to find a game they’re good at playing and to experience the exhibit firsthand.


Interactive Games Your Family Can Play Together
A popular part of Game Masters is where families can dance together on a multiplayer dance stage to a large-scale version of Dance Central 3.


School Your Kids on Your Favorite Childhood Video Games
You’ll love that you can show your kids the games you played as a kid and teach them all the tricks to winning that you spent countless hours learning in your youth!

Playing your old favorites will make you feel like a kid again and you’ll score some serious points when your little gamers see how cool you are for chomping all the ghosts and killing all the centipedes. You can even explain the concept of entering your three initials for a high score and what a rite of passage that used to be.


The Bigger Picture
Beyond the actual game playing, this well-rounded exhibit also features concept art, storyboards, character wireframes and design documents that illustrate the various stages of the game design process. It’s sure to inspire aspiring game developers and give video game lovers a deeper insight and appreciation into the work that goes into inventing new video games.

Late Night Gaming on Friday Nights
On Friday nights now through Sept. 1st, the Fleet Science Center will be open until 10 p.m. for late-night gaming in Game Masters. There will be a bar with adult beverages that opens at 6 p.m. and Craveology will be open to refuel on food until 9 p.m.

Game Masters: The Exhibit is open now through Jan. 15, 2018.

Fleet Science Center
1875 El Prado
San Diego, Ca 92101
619-238-1233
Online: rhfleet.org

What game do you want to school your kids in the most at Game Masters? Tell us in the comments.

––Beth Shea

All photos by Beth Shea