Gameplan: Boardgames Rediscovered (Exhibition in London, UK)

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Gameplan: Boardgames Rediscovered (Exhibition in London, UK)

I've posted this in the State Of Games Podcast guild on BGG, but thought I'd post it here for people who don't listen to it/use the forum there:

I went today to the V&A Museum of CHildhood (Bethnal Green) to see Gamplan: Boardgames Rediscovered. I was there with someone who hasn't really seen the modern games, and I guess your enjoyment of the exhibition will be affected by what you're looking for from it.

It's a historical journey showing typical games from different eras, starting with ancient Egypt and showing some some of the cultural influences on different games at the time (like Snakes and Ladders having various morality lessons printed on the boards), which briefly shows some of the modern games. There is a nice nostalgia element showing the mass market games from the mid 20th Century, and it does a good job showing the history of Monopoly and shows some curious licenced properties. There were also some curious games like Play Doh's Grape Escape which seemed vaguely disturbing in what happened to the player grape pawns (which I reckon kids would have loved!)

It's not overly interested in design of mechanics - despite the opening video talking about four kinds of game (race, chase, space and displace), they do not seem that well defined and they're not refered to again in the remainder of the exhibition. A good number of the interactive parts of the exhibition are roll and move based.
It's not a great fit for the exhibition title - "Game Plan: Boardgames Rediscovered". Very little of what they covered (beyond giving Pandemic a decent display showing the evolution of Matt Leacock's design steps), has anything to do with the renaissance that boardgames are having (and only gives a cursory mention of Germany's role) with the modern games section being half the size of the section dealing with the childhood classics. Whilst this fits with the remit of the Museum of Childhood, it doesn't really talk about the 'rediscovery'

I'd give it a yes, but with caveats. The history elements are fascinating, and some of the cultural influences on games (particularly the morality fables that some games attempt to be) are really interesting to read about, but it's connection to the modern world of games is weak.

As for my friend, she enjoyed it (for the nostalgia, culture and history aspects), but she also enjoyed me talking about the modern games to the extent that we sat down at the end of the exhibition and played The Bloody Inn (one of a number of games I had in my bag as I was expecting to go with a bigger group). She had fun playing it, even if she possibly took a bit too much joy in killing guests, so I might have started someone's interest in the designer game market. Not sure that will happen to someone who is just visiting the museum who is not already aware of the modern games