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Video games cultural centre to open

Digital icons such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Donkey Kong are not celebrated in museums, but that is about to change, as the first cultural centre for video games is about to open in Nottingham.

The National Videogame Arcade (NVA), which opens for the first time on Saturday, is the result of a £2.5 million project, and will celebrate the UK's heritage in games development, with exhibitions ranging from vintage arcade machines to experimental new projects.

For the second consecutive year the Chancellor George Osborne confirmed support for the gaming industry in his Budget, by announcing a £4 million video games prototype fund to support developers.

This followed on from the tax relief for games production that was announced in 2014.

Jonathan Smith, co-director of the NVA said: "An incredible team of engineers, developers, craftspeople and crew have come together to build the National Videogame Arcade.

"We are inspired by the magnificent building that we're lucky enough to be able to play in and look forward to sharing this excitement with our visitors."

Set within Nottingham's creative quarter, the first set of exhibitions include Jump! - dedicated to what the NVA describes as the "fundamental gameplay mechanic" of jumping.

This will showcase games ranging from the original 1981 version of Donkey Kong, to 2014's Destiny, the first game in a 500 US dollars (£335m) franchise.

According to the UK Interactive Entertainment Association (Ukie), the gaming industry's trade body, the UK is the world's fifth largest consumer market for games, worth over £3.9 billion in 2014, a rise of more than 13% on the previous year.

The UK is also home to some of the biggest-selling franchises in the industry, including the Grand Theft Auto series, which is developed by Dundee-based Rockstar North.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey said of the opening of the NVA: "Videogames are one of the UK's biggest success stories. We know that they make a huge contribution to the national economy, but it's sometimes easy to overlook the part they play in our cultural lives too.

"I welcome the arrival of GameCity's National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham as a unique destination for the celebration and exploration of video game culture, and I'm delighted that finally video games have a cultural home."

A permanent feature within the centre will be the History of Games in 100 Objects exhibition, which maps the history of gaming in Britain, from the world's first game-playing computer at the 1951 Festival of Britain, to new virtual reality experiences on the Oculus Rift headset.

Gaming industry veteran and former chairman of developer studio Eidos, Ian Livingstone said: "Videogames are important.

"The contribution that video games make to the UK economy is a matter of record rather than opinion - but it's easy to overlook the part they play as a key element in our cultural lives too.

"I'm delighted that the wait is over - finally video games have a cultural home.

"I welcome the arrival of GameCity's National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham as a unique destination for the celebration and exploration of video game culture."

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