Video Games

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New exhibition blurs the line between video games and reality in Football

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I'm not going to pretend to know much (if anything at all actually) about football or art, but something I do know a lot about is video games, which is why this new exhibition at Manchester’s National Football Museum piqued my interest. “Pitch to Pixel: The World of Football Gaming,” has been designed to blur the line between computer games and reality, which is surely a distressing prospect for anyone who lost several years of their life to the likes of Championship Manager. For those of us who are genuinely interested in examining the increasingly small divide between virtual and real-world sports though, it could represent a fascinating insight into why we've chosen to move away from the pitch and into the living room for our football fixes in recent years.

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Pitch to Pixel: The World of Football Gaming, is an exhibition that's been designed to blur the line between computer games and reality

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The exhibition has set out to be a fully immersive experience, which also pays visual homage to around 40 years of football gaming. Instruct Studio has led the design of the exhibition, which incorporates artwork, gaming paraphernalia, unique gaming experiences and playable arcade cabinets.

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The theme of the design was “Pixel to polygon,” which has resulted in bold colours, and exhibition graphics inspired by the design language of everything from old retro arcade machines to the latest computer game consoles such as the PS4 and the Xbox One. The consultancy worked alongside Liverpool-based Archiform on 3D design, which has created polygon pods to house the numerous playable games and artefacts. Instruct, meanwhile, led the design of the branding, marketing materials and animated digital outdoor advertising.

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Installations will include the motion capture suits worn by Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero for EA Sports FIFA 16 (though visitors looking to step into those suits will leave sorely disappointed as they're not cheap!), as well as an interactive art project called “Hit-it” by Leo Schatzl. This concept will allow visitors to virtually put themselves inside a football game using bespoke hardware and software to track visitors movements as they take a “Header selfie” with a stationary ball (can you imagine the carnage otherwise) This information is then used to create a short film of facial expressions taken at what is a crucial and unguarded moment.

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A photo booth will also allow visitors to put themselves on the front cover of the classic game Football Manager, which is an official partner of the exhibition. A bunch of classic football games have also been mapped out in a timeline taking in everything from Pele’s Soccer (Atari), to Nintendo World Cup (NES), Sensible Soccer (Amiga) and Go! Go! Beckham! (Nintendo Gameboy).

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Installations will include the motion capture suits worn by Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero for EA Sports FIFA 16, as well as an interactive art project by Leo Schatzl

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Instruct creative director John Owens said: “We have created a completely unique experience, bringing computer games to life in a 3D space while retaining the emotional attachment people have for football games. We already have big plans for inter-agency tournaments after all the practice we have had.” Pitch to Pixel: The World of Football Gaming is on until July 2016 at the National Football Museum at the Urbis Building in Cathedral Gardens, Todd St, Manchester M4 3BG.

Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician from Kidderminster from the UK. His favourite football game of all time is Super Mario Strikers for the Gamecube and he's not even remotely ashamed!

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