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Queens Chronicle

The sounds of spaceships fill the air

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Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2012 10:30 am

“The gallery space will be fairly loud,” Carl Goodman, executive director of the Museum of the Moving Image, said about the venue’s latest tribute, this one to the granddaddy of video games.

The museum will host 17 interactive beeping and buzzing game platforms and about nine arcade games starting on Dec. 15, which can all be linked back to “Spacewar!” In 1962 three Massachusetts Institute of Technology students created what no one had before — a digital video game.

“They didn’t call it a video game; they called it a computer toy,” Goodman said.

The computer whizzes then shared the software on the precursor to the Internet. People took interest and soon many other games followed suit, creating a story line in a fanciful space world.

“SpaceWar!” chose the backdrop of a black sky out of necessity for its plot, because at the time computers couldn’t draw the elaborate scenes of modern games. But the space theme has proved a nice fit for programs decades later as well, because it allows the player to fill in the created environment, Goodman said, adding the plots were the reason why the museum, which is dedicated to showing visual stories, became interested in the exhibition.

“They are emotionally engaging,” Goodman said, “You care about what you see on the screen.”

Another reason the museum will be displaying games in its “Blast Off” show is the more serious topic of education. These games, Goodman said, demonstrate “how to create a game from moving pixels.” The works additionally educate, either knowingly or unknowingly, about physics and the trajectory gamers must take to win.

Some of the games available for the public to play at the Museum of the Moving Image will be “Halo 4,” a first-person shooter game released this year based in a science-fiction-like world; “Space Invaders,” the wildly popular 1978 Japanese arcade program — the “Elvis” of arcade games, which changed everything; “Star Wars,” a 1983 game that introduced colorful vector graphics; and the rare “Galaxy Force II,” created for Sega in the ’80s with a slower space narrative that requires more skills to progress than its predecessors.

“It shows technological innovation, a tremendous amount of creativity — not just a geeky exhibit,” Goodman said.

‘Spacewar! Video Games Blast Off’

When: Dec. 15 through March 3. Tuesdays to Thursdays 10:30 a.m. to 5: p.m., Fridays 10:30 a.m to 8 p.m. (Free admission, 4 to 8 p.m.), Saturdays and Sundays, 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Where: Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35 Ave., Astoria

Tickets: $12; $9 students and seniors, $6 children

movingimage.us, (718) 777-6888

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