ACMI – Screen Worlds

James Matson discovers a secret cache of retro gaming goodness nestled in the heart of Melbourne’s bustling CBD.

Stuck for something to do on a rainy Saturday afternoon? Well, we’ve got just the thing for you. The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) at Federation Square, Melbourne hosts a permanent exhibition within its fine walls called ‘Screen Worlds’. Based around the history of the moving image and rightly touting it as one of the most ‘pervasive and powerful cultural forms of our time’, Screen Worlds manages to pay homage to the history of video games among some of its displays and exhibition pieces.

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While Screen Worlds has a lot of (admittedly interesting) exhibits and information around the history of television and film (from some of the first home television sets to the birth of reality TV) there is a couple of corners dedicated to the history of video games. Think of it as a mini ‘Game On’ exhibit. We found a whole host of favorite retro machines on display, from the Intellivision and Odyssey to the more well known Nintendo 64 and original NES.

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Not content with simply displaying these fine pieces of gaming bliss, some of them are fired up and ready to play. We got our thrills on a few rounds of Tempest (via emulation) before hitting up  some Mario 64 on the N64 and finishing off with a few waggles of the joystick on the Atari 2600 version of Space Invaders.

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Computers too are well represented, with the venerable Apple IIe, Sinclair Spectrum and even ye olde ZX80 available for your oggling pleasure. A Commodore 64 bread bin was powered up and ready to play too, should the mood strike you. Intermingled with the machines themselves are games boxes, 80s advertising brochures and informational plaques about the different machines on display.

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The best part of all? The bit we saved till the end? It’s free. That’s right, it’s a free exhibit that your’e welcome to wander into and out of at your leisure (though a donation box at the front suggests a fiver would go a long way to keeping exhibits like this up and running). So a free showcase of retro gaming machines and paraphernalia for your viewing (and interacting) pleasure.

Well, what are you still doing sitting here, reading this? Off you go! (For more information hit up the Screen Worlds info page)

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