Nostalgia abounds at Chengdu video and arcade game festival

Strolling around a video game exhibition, Liu Wei found many things to channel memories of the good old days´╝ŹPac-Man, Space Invaders and Super Mario Brothers.

The “Game on” sign at the entrance has activated a “time tunnel” for the 36-year-old white-collar worker, whose eyes began to well-up when the music from Contra came to his ears.

Starting from July 6, this year’s Game On Blooming Global Gaming Trends Exhibition and Festival, simply referred to as “Game On Blooming”, which has been co-organized by China Blooming Investment, the London Barbican Center and the London city government, will run through Oct 28 in Chengdu, the capital of southwest China’s Sichuan province.

Visitors can experience both the nostalgia of early-stage PC and arcade games and an introduction to the next generation of state-of-the-art gaming technologies. Game music and movies are also on display.

“It feels like I’ve traveled through time back to my childhood,” Liu says as he plays Steel Battalion on an antique game console developed by Capcom in 2002 that simulates heavy-duty armored operations.

With 18 exhibition areas, Game On Blooming has put more than 150 games from different time periods on display, including Pong, the first ever arcade game, released in 1972 by Atari.

The exhibition has provided hands-on experiences for visitors to immerse themselves in the storylines of their avatars and the gaming process.

Wang Yuqian, a 20-year-old college student in Chengdu, is captivated by virtual reality games. She regards gaming not only as an art form that combines visual, musical, film, design and technological elements but an industry that requires integrated skills.

“I’ve just experienced Andy’s World, a cyberpunk game that combines elements of both sci-fi and philosophy,” Wang says. “The VR devices have brought more realistic immersion.”

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The exhibition has been very popular since the launch of its world tour a decade ago, says Neil McConnon from the London Barbican Center, noting that it was China’s flourishing gaming industry that brought him and his Chinese partners to Chengdu.

Last year, actual sales revenue in the Chinese gaming market hit 214 billion yuan ($ 31.1 billion), accounting for 23.6 percent of the world’s total, according to a report on China’s gaming industry co-issued by the China Audio-video and the Digital Publishing Association.

“Games are cultural experiences. As China’s cultural consumption continues to upgrade, edutainment will become the future trend,” says Chen Yang, executive vice president of Blooming Investment.

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