Travel through time: MOMI exhibit shows history of sports videos games

“A Whole Different Ball Game: Playing Through 60 Years of Sports Video Games” is on view at Museum of the Moving Image from Sept. 14, to March 10.
Courtesy of Museum of the Moving Image
By Merle Exit

Prepare to spend many hours at the Museum of the Moving Image with their new exhibit, “A Whole Different Ball Game, Playing Through 60 Years of Sports Video Games.”

Featuring 44 playable video games from generations past, you can see how the relationship between game, sport, media and culture has grown over the years.

Curated by Digital Media Jason Eppink and guest curator John Sharp, the exhibition is being sponsored by Psyonix, developer of the sports-action hit, Rocket League.

“I’d like visitors to come away with two impressions: an appreciation for the often curious and exciting ways sports are turned into other kinds of games, and an awareness of how games in turn can become sports,” said Sharp. “The exhibition is a consideration of America’s relationship to sports and sports video games.”

Upon entering the museum, glance at the 50-foot wide video installation as it presents screen recordings from 120 different sports video games from various countries around the globe.

Then head up to the third floor for the main exhibition, where the opening corridor presents a series of short videos of iconic moments in the medium.

“Visitors to the exhibition will have an opportunity to touch, see, and experience playing on a variety of platforms, such as an oscilloscope for ‘Tennis for Two,’ the original game created in 1958, handheld games in the 1970s and ‘80s, and today’s popular home console games,” said Director of Public Information Tomoko Kawamoto.

Sports video game enthusiasts may recognize many of the games. The exhibition is divided into seven sections, the first being “Early Adaptions.” Games in the section include: “Tennis for Two” (playable), “Tudor Tru-action Electric Football Game,” “Magnavox Odyssey console,” “Pong,” “Super Pong,” “Milan European Foosball Table,” “Football,” “Electronic Baseball,” “Coleco Head to Head Baseball,” “Coleco Head to Head Basketball,” “Tomy Tennis,” “Bambino Basketball Dribble Away,” “Tandy Championship Electronic Golf,” and “Electronic Baseball.”

Section 2, titled “From Sports to Video,” contains some of the more unique game designs, including “Atari Football,” “Track and Field,” “Wii Sports,” “Tony Hawk Shred,” “World Class Track Meet,” “NHL ’94,” “Michael Phelps – Push the Limit,” “QWOP,” and “Shawn Johnson Gymnastics.”

Other highlights can be seen in Section 4, which includes footage from three Mets games that are paired with contemporary video games and Section 7, which offers cartoon-like, sci-fi and even violent sports-themed games, such as “Mutant Football League,” “Cyber Stadium Series – Base Wars,” “Speedball 2 – Brutal Deluxe,” “NBA Jam,” “Wayne Gretzky’s 3-D Hockey,” and “NFL Blitz 2002.”

There are two permanent exhibitions worth exploring.

There is a closed in area within the exhibition that has a set of bleachers called the Mini-Stadium, where you can view a 52-minute selection of ads, news reports, game highlights and a few short documentaries depicting sports video games projected on the wall.

“A Whole Different Ball Game” will run through March 10, 2019. General admission tickets are for the galleries and Fridays offer free admission from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Admission to all screenings require you to purchase separate tickets. Purchasing a ticket for a screening allows you to visit all of the exhibitions on display.

MOMI is located at 36-01 35th Ave. in Astoria. For further information visit www.movingimage.us

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