Myself and Cyburn spread our angel wings and got our celestial butts down to Hackney Wick last Sunday for ‘Fission Mailed – The Art of Gaming’. In the organisers’ own words, this was ‘a one day interactive exhibition… in association with retrotainment specialist REZtron and CRATE brewery exploring the evolution and creativity of video games and its parallel adoption as an artistic medium’. What this meant in practice was various Sega consoles (we applaud your choice of company, guys!) hooked up to projectors displaying at all sorts of crazy angles, and an array of games to play on them (specifically chosen for their artistic merit, ofcourse). These games included Ikaruga, Mortal Kombat, and my main impetus for coming along ; Shenmué!
The whole exhibit took place in a single room, but this actually worked out Ok as, mercifully, the event wasn’t too overcrowded. It also meant you could glance around the room at any point and experience all the ‘art’ (in other words, see what everyone else was playing). Myself and Cyburn were there since the beginning (it opened about 3:30) and stayed right til the end (10pm). Both being fans of Sega (and just of pretty games in general) we wanted to try everything they had on offer.
Particular highlights of the event, for me, included watching Cyburn try Shenmué for the first time, and beating him at a game of 2 player Sonic 2 (which was being projected on the ceiling for all to see). Getting to try Panzer Dragoon on the Saturn for the first time was also pretty special as, despite calling myself a Sega fangurl, I must admit I have yet to get to grips with all of its major franchises. There were many other cute oddities in addition, such as Chu Chu Rocket and the original Dreamcast version of Bangai-O.
The venue the event took place in was a decidedly hipster bar/pizzeria inside the so-called ‘White Building’, which fit in perfectly with the event’s academic theme. Teeming with trendy University types, this venue looks out unto a busy canal, which provided a nice spot to have a breather after an hour or two of frantic gaming. Despite the hipster vibe the prices weren’t too bad ; I managed to treat myself and Cyburn to a pizza and drinks for under £20. They were tasty, too!
So, in conclusion, while the event was small in size it more than made up for that in character. The aforementioned odd-angled projectors added more to the experience than this article gives justice to (although hopefully that I’ve mentioned that fact will go some way to address that!). The games were great, the organisers were really friendly, what more could you ask for? Recommended.