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FEATURED ARTICLE: Nottingham Gaming – from Dambusters to the National Arcade

From chess to Tetris to the first text-based adventure games, entertainment has always been moving forwards. Since gaming’s beginnings in black and white television, we’ve seen it evolve into a worldwide pastime, economic giant and successful media industry without comparison.

These days, it’s commonplace to see Christmas and birthday wishlists full to bursting with requests for the newest titles and tech, and that trend seems unlikely to end anytime soon.

Gaming is big. Its customers, players and developers are scattered across the globe – with plenty closer to home to be taking note of. Here’s a rundown of Nottingham’s own gaming scene, from Dambusters to the National Arcade.

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Dambuster Studios: First-Person Shooters and the Future Reimagined

A subsidiary of Deep Silver, Dambuster Studios has been doing business in the gaming industry since 2014. With their offices in Nottingham, they’ve spent their developing and since releasing their first title, Homefront: The Revolution. An open world first-person shooter, the player scavenges for food, water and supplies in a reimagined version of the Homefront world – one in which the digital revolution took place in the ’70s in North Korea’s ‘Silicon River.’ Ethan Bradley, the protagonist and player-controlled character, fights as part of a resistance against an oppressive North Korean occupation. Whilst Homefront: The Revolution faired averagely in terms of reviews and critical opinion, it certainly shows promise.

Gaming is constantly improving on itself, constantly reinventing. We have virtual reality headsets, books on slim computer screens and titles both portable and on console. Mobile gaming, in particular, is a constantly growing industry, one now worth ~$36 billion, that runs titles from mobile casino video slots on your smartphone, in which thematic spinning titles such as Vikings, Egyptian tombs and fairytales rule the roost, to gun-toting action games similar to that of Homefront: The Revolution. It’ll certainly be interesting to see what Dambusters comes up with next as they continue to develop from their home turf here in Nottingham, and if they make any kind of foray into mobile gaming as it continues to bloom into the largest sector of the industry as a whole.

A Childhood Dream – The National Videogame Arcade

The home of video games, or so they title themselves. The National Videogame Arcade is a non-profit centre for education, exhibits, fun and all things gaming, a flagship project in the heart of Nottingham that is both a museum and a cultural centre. With tens of thousands of visitors a year, they’re representative of the growing impact our entertainment has on our daily lives. It’s something to be studied, questioned, and, ultimately, enjoyed. The NVA exists as a celebration of video games, and for those in the local area, it’s a terrific resource.

Building Interest: A Sundance Festival for Gamers

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Since 2009 Nottingham Trent University and GameCity have collaborated in celebration of video gaming. Hosting talks and presentations from those currently working in the industry, the festival provides an award each year to a game of its choice according to ‘accomplishment and contribution to culture.’ GameCity manage and run the National Videogame Arcade – it’s clear they’re committed to celebrating gaming everywhere, for everyone, and Nottingham is their base of operations.

As gaming both mobile and portable continues to grow, only time will tell if this cluster of gaming culture, development and study continue to proliferate. For now, Dambusters will keep on dambusting, and GameCity and the National Arcade will keep on sharing the joy of gaming with as many people as possible.

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