VIGAMUS – Rome’s neat little video game museum

by Karen

After spending a whole week walking amongst ruins, it was time for a change of pace. We’d heard that there was a video game museum in Rome after looking up Groupons earlier this year. We missed the sale, but still thought it would be fun to go and check out the place.

Onward, to VIGAMUS!
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For those interested, the closest Metro station is Lepanto, close to the Vatican. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk from the station. VIGAMUS is located in the basement of a non-descript office building, but fortunately there was a small banner outside the front door. You’ll also be greeted by a life-sized statue of Katniss Everdeen Lara Croft in the reception area.
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Admission is 8€ per person, and includes unlimited usage of their “interactive areas” (i.e., console & arcade setups), and there is no time limit. They do close at 8pm though. You also get a free membership card that grants you reduced admission for future visits as well as discounts in their store.
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The museum is dedicated to the history of videogames, from the 1960s to early 1980s. It has neat and interesting displays about how videogames started and became popular before, during, and after the crash.
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What is interesting is that the exhibits also slightly focuses on European contributions to the rise of video games in the 70s-80s. Most of the time you hear of American or Japanese contributions, but who knew that the British also produced a console to rival the Commodore 64? (I didn’t, at least!) Many consoles and games are also displayed throughout the hall.
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It doesn’t dwell too much upon modern gaming and systems (since that is substantially covered nowadays by plenty of sources), but they do have display cases with paraphernalia donated by several game studios worldwide.
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Currently, there is an exhibit sponsored by Ubisoft for Assassin’s Creed Black Flag and how it relates to actual world history. There is also an art exhibit featuring sketches and drawings from Grasshopper Manufacture’s various games.
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The biggest highlight for me was the Oculus Rift room. There were several stations set up for people to try the Rift, each with a different demo. I was worried about getting motion sickness, so I skipped the roller coaster demo and opted for the Breakout-ish game demo instead. It was pretty fun, I wish I had more time experimenting with it.
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All in all, if you like video games, their history, and want a small break from ancient ruins and Baroque architecture, this museum is a nice change of pace. We spent 1.5 hours there, and felt rushed, I think another hour would’ve made it even more enjoyable. Although it depends on how much time you’d want to devote to the “interactive areas”. They were actually decently-sized rooms, I had counted 5 of them with various console setups and arcade cabinets.
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