Museum of Discovery’s new exhibit is a (video) game-changer

Leo Friedman

Adults, toddlers and everyone in between flocked to the members-only opening of “Game Changers,” a new video game-focused exhibit at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. The exhibit, which opened on Oct. 12 and will make the museum its home until Jan. 31, brings together the nostalgia of gaming and current innovations, connecting gamers of all ages and eras.

The exhibit, which is touring across the United States and Canada, details video games and the video game industry in

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Gaming toys
Visitors of the Game Changers Exhibit can purchase all the classic game toys to keep their imagination flowing or to add to the collection. (Noah Turner | The Collegian)

an interactive and informational way. It explores the path video games have followed from their inception to the present to possible future innovations. It also explores the importance of video games in a social context.

The exhibit also has large models of classic video games that people can play, like “Pac-Man” and “Super Mario Bros.”

“The museum is really hands-on and fun,” said Kristin Stern, the marketing and communications manager of the museum. “We really focus on what’s innovative and what’s creative. Gaming touches on all of that.”

The new exhibit is high in nostalgic value, as many of the games featured were played by people who grew up in the 1980s-90s.

“We really do think it will reach a wide audience,” Stern said. “We’d love to see the (Colorado State University) crowd here, having a blast, shredding on ‘Guitar Hero’ and learning about how all these intersections weave together for this whole experience.”

Originally from Canada, the exhibit contains French translations of all content. Stern noted that the museum also translated everything into Spanish in order to include members of the Fort Collins Spanish-speaking community.

The exhibit in itself is actually quite brilliant, showing a nice little evolution of where things began to where things are in regard to the video game world.” – David Leeper, cosplayer and event attendee

The exhibit fits in with the general theme of the Museum of Discovery, which has many interactive exhibits that focus on the interaction between science and history. Museum visitors can experience different video game sounds as well as see one of the first gaming platforms ever created.

“Game Changers” was brought to Fort Collins through a collaboration between the museum and Fort Collins Comic Con. The partnership resulted in a few cosplayers attending the members-only opening day, representing different video game characters. 

“The exhibit in itself is actually quite brilliant, showing a nice little evolution of where things began to where things are in regard to the video game world,” said David Leeper, who cosplayed as the “Star Wars” character Darth Malgus at the opening event.

While the exhibit boasts a large number of video games to play and information about their innovative history, there are also a number of programs and speakers scheduled over the course of the exhibit to talk about the relevance of video games in our society.

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Charlotte Conway, the public programs coordinator of the museum, highlighted some of the programming that will be accompanying the exhibit.

“For ‘Game Changers,’ we do have a couple of programs that we developed in house,” Conway said. “Next month we have a (video game-themed) museum takeover, so we’ll have video games spread out around the museum for people to play. We’ll have different educational activities, like map making, and how that’s a part of video games but also the real world.”

Sounds of excitement and frustration were echoed around the museum throughout the day, especially at the “Guitar Hero” station. The exhibit blends education and fun, teaching about the importance of video games and their technology, but also how much fun people have with them. 

Jesse Schmideke, a Fort Collins local, said it was fun to see his child interacting with both the vintage games and new ones.

Old nintendo contoller
A giant display of an old Nintendo controller on the opening day of the Game Changers Exhibit Oct. 13 (Noah Turner | The Collegian)

“My kid plays his Nintendo Switch but also plays old games on the Wii,” Schmideke said.

Schmideke said that this exhibit is a good bonding experience with his family, showing the timeliness of video games.

“We wanted to make it really accessible,” Stern said. “I think that’s something that is unique about gaming, that gaming is this really accessible thing. It crosses generations. It crosses cultures. It has evolved with us as we’ve grown up.”

Leo Friedman can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @leofriedman13.