Museums aren’t just a place to dump visiting relatives for an afternoon; they can be a great place to take in knowledge, history & cultures unfamiliar to you and…see BJ Blazkowicz in action?
This fall, id Software’s 1992 Nazi-killing classic Wolfenstein 3D will make an appearance in the Imperial War Museum in London. A free exhibition, War Games: Real Conflicts | Virtual Worlds | Extreme Entertainment explores the relationship between video games and armed conflict, with Wolfenstein 3D pioneering the first-person shooter genre that would become synonymous with popular war franchises like Battlefield, Sniper Elite and Call of Duty.
“I wanted to include Wolfenstein 3D in the exhibition, not only because it was hugely influential FPS – one that really helped define the genre going forward – but also because it was one of the first shooter games I ever played on my family’s first home computer,” says War Games curator Ian Kikuchi. “I had a shareware copy of the game in the early 1990s’ and played it to death. Returning to the game more recently, I’ve been surprised how well it holds up more than thirty years after its release, particularly when played on the harder difficulties with ammo tight and enemy damage high. The game still tests your reflexes and your ability to navigate the game’s endless corridors.”
It’s not just FPS games, however. The exhibit hopes to explore how gaming intersects with humankind’s overall fascination with war, as media like movies and television often do. From tactical games and realistic simulators relaying strategic thinking to games such as Bury Me, My Love and This War of Mine that explore the humanitarian ravages of war, the IWM seeks “to challenge perceptions of how video games interpret stories about war and conflict through a series of titles which (...) have reflected events from the First World War to the present.”
War Games: Real Conflicts | Virtual Worlds | Extreme Entertainment opens to the public at the IWM London starting September 30, 2022 and runs until May 28, 2023. While Wolfenstein 3D isn’t known for historical accuracy or realistic combat, its role in influencing future games about conflict makes it one for the history books. Still, this one goes out to the fans who stayed up late blasting fascists into the wee hours over thirty years ago – little did you know you were studying up on a future museum piece.