Back to the weird future: Take-off in Rome

Vigamus Museum, Rome

If you think that a weirdo with a doubtful hygiene routine employed by Atari wasn’t Steve Jobs himself, or that Mattel is all about Barbie, you’re totally missing out on something in the history of cyberspace. No worries, though, it’s all waiting for you in Rome: an eye-popping, interactive collection of more and less ancient video games along with some spicy details and curiosities – especially not only for the geeks.

Museum in Rome, Vigamus

For a millennial like myself, visiting Vigamus is an amusing journey back to childhood. Personally, I could revive the excitement when my older brother let me play (for ten minutes) one of his fascinating Atari games: two neighbours with lawn mowers in a race to cut down the grass. Yey… those were the days! Or Cannon Fodder, an action-strategy shoot’em up by Sensible Software – a classic! (I still love it, actually.) To make the best out of my afternoon and absorb the peculiar spirit of the place, I packed it with heaps of bygone-cutting-edge gadgets and bothering other visitors about their own experiences.

For a start, having subconsciously compared my rigorously worked-out body to the life-size cast of Lara Croft, and losing a bit of my spirit, I rush to a group of twelve-year-olds by the hot chocolate machine, discussing their recent quests. My agreeable interviewees, all floppy-haired, take my voice recorder very seriously: << Yes, we come here quite often. It’s very entertaining to play all the stuff that is practically prehistoric. >> (Auch…)

Battle Shark, video game, RomeThanks, Lara. Thanks, guys. The place is fitted out with a plethora of gadgets and gaming stations from different tech eras, including archetypal PCs, Game Boys, virtual reality simulators, original Pac-Man gizmos, and even the Power Glove by Nintendo and Mattel. To begin with, I feel like raining some blows, so I invite my partner for some pre-Mortal Kombat round. I choose to be a giant bear, Gunnar picks a tiny Asian blonde in a pink outfit. I used to play the punch-and-kicks in my early twenties when I needed to ‘let it out.’ It worked back then, and I still find it kinda relaxing, I must say. The next game we try has a rather painful Middle-East conflict plot, ultimately ridiculed and it makes me feel uncomfortable.     

Vigamus Museum, RomeIn the meantime, it is our turn for the highlight: the dark room of Oculus, the virtual reality prototype developed by very young Palmer Luckey’s in his garage. The visor creates the illusion of being fully immersed in the 3D reality by means of a head-mounted display. The player controls the surroundings by moving her head, arms and legs. Though not in the vanguard of latest development anymore, the effect is more than enough for nightly sessions with zombie, witches and other demons. Finally, paying tribute to an ingenious garage-based developer would be in order.

Shaking out the 3D dizziness out of my head while strolling along the aisle with a years’ overview of gizmos and large characters, I come across a room devoted exclusively to Assassin’s Creed, an action-adventure stealth video game. The life-size casts, boards explaining everything from the plot and weapons to the creators’ backgrounds and struggles invite to another immersion. All seats taken, I come up to a dad with his eight-year-old. There are more teams like this one around. He explains to me he doesn’t want his son to treat computer games as daily bread but rather to see them as an occasional activity, something special. << And I want to teach him something about the stuff before he starts teaching me, hahaha >>, he adds winking at me and patting the boy’s head.

Gaming stations, Museum Vigamus in Rome.

Just outside the Assassin’s room is a peculiar space saved for the ‘worst game ever’. Intriguing enough, if you ask me. I don’t know how you feel about trying out the least riveting release in historyE.T. The Extra-Terrestrialbut there is a cool legend behind this failure. The game was such a disaster that in September 1983, a dozen of trucks unloaded piles of unsold and returned copies which were to be buried forever. The fable had remained unconfirmed until April 26th, 2014 when an Atari lover, Mike Burns, obtained the necessary permission for the excavations among the sands of Alamogordo in New Mexico, USA.

worst game, Vigamus, Rome

I can only imagine how embarrassing it would be if a group of archaeologists from the future dug the stuff out, all carefully secured, with the conclusion it must have been the top achievement of our times. By the way, have you heard of the times when people stopped playing computer games? Or why the video games authors’ names didn’t appear on the boxes? Not even why Pac-Man qualified for the Nobel Prize? Oh, and that Barbie thing. Rome is waiting, then. With this and much more weird stuff.

Game Boy, Nintendo

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33 Responses

  1. That is a very cool place! I would be right at home. I recently visited the National Video Game Museum in Texas. Talk about amazing! Its a one of a kind facility with virtually every video game ever created, including a PONG life-size made especially for them.

  2. Anna-Maria says:

    Woow it’s so fascinating, i always loved gaming but I guess I grew out of it but lately im starting t o get into it.

  3. Assasins Creed is fun – those old school games are not my thing, but my son and I would have had a blast checking this place out – even though we are Call of Duty Fans – blessings!

  4. Amanda Love says:

    I can imagine me and my two boys having a blast in this place! It’s filled with everything you need to have fun. I’m going to have a difficult time leaving as well. It’s quite nostalgic!

  5. Carrie says:

    This is so interesting! I think it is so cool to be able to look at how far technology and games have come.

  6. Omg I’ve been to Rome like 3 times now and I’ve never heard of this place! I need to go next time I’m in town 🙂

  7. Tiina A says:

    There re so many gadgets and devices coming out all the time! My brother just bought those “glasses” which you put on and you can have a look how it is somewhere else or pretend to be in a totally different city or country.

  8. Tammileetips says:

    I think it will be fun to see what future generations think of our stuff. I know I look back 20 years sometimes and go how was that advanced.

  9. Elizabeth O. says:

    Amazing! I had no idea there’s a place like that in Rome. It’s awesome and it’s nostalgic at the same time. I’m sure both the kids and adults will have an exciting time here!

  10. N. Lorenzo says:

    Wow, this is really exciting stuff! I wish Vigamus were near me so that I could check out some of the games.

  11. Megan Ogden says:

    I am a gamer, and this place looks like a dream! I am waiting for the Sims to become Virtual…. that will be crazy lol

  12. Nina says:

    This sounds like quite an interesting and different thing to do in Rome. Skip the Vatican and go play some video games!


  13. lex says:

    get me the games, and a cool drink of milk and i will not disturb you one bit, am a fan of gaming and this is a fun post for me.

  14. Liz Mays says:

    I didn’t know the story behind E.T. the game. It must have been really bad! This seemed like such an interesting place!

  15. Bee says:

    I’m not into games at all and I”ve never found virtual games interesting. I’m just from a different generation I think.

  16. Ana says:

    The dark room of Oculus looks fascinating and I love that there are original Pacman gizmos!

  17. I loved Atari growing up! Likewise if my brothers and cousins let me at it that is. After that i was never really into games and gadgets…my children however would love it here!

  18. Fascinating! This must be a lot of fun and I say that as someone who is not into games of any sort. So they rally buried and then dug up the failed game? That is crazy.

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