A large basement space in the Science Museum now echoes to the sounds of Space Invaders and Mario Kart as the whole space has been filled with arcade and computer games.
The museum’s collection of games consoles used to be brought out of storage for short-term Power Up games sessions, but it’s now a permanent installation so you can play computer games whenever you visit. They’ve also introduced a very affordable annual pass for just £15 giving you unlimited repeat visits.
There are over 160 consoles in the arcade, ranging from 1976 pong to the latest multi-player computer games. There are also some arcade game emulator consoles where you can select anything from Pac-Man to Centipede to Q-Bert to Street Fighter.
With the moody lighting, the sounds of the games and the smell of popcorn from the food stall, it momentarily dropped me back 20 years ago into the Trocadero’s Sega World experience.
Mark Cutmore, Head of Commercial Experiences at the Science Museum Group, told me that they were able to pick up a lot of the older games and computers on eBay, with staff scouring around to build up a collection.
He’s keen to note though that while these computers and consoles are going to get more use than they probably ever expected, he doesn’t want this to be a place where old machines come to die — so they have a full-time technician who looks after the computers, keeping them working, and of course, keeping the keyboards clean.
Being the Science Museum, it’s not just play, as there’s a history of games along the main wall, and droplets of games history dotted around the room.
The Power Up arcade will be a permanent part of the museum and open daily when the museum is open. You can find it towards the rear of the museum near the IMAX cinema.
Day passes are £10, but you can also buy an annual pass for just £15 which grants unlimited entry to Power Up for 12 months.
You need to book tickets in advance from here.
There will also be Gaming Lates evenings with an adult-only evening session on Saturday 18th November, and family sessions on Saturdays 23rd September and 28th October 2023.
Power Up is recommended for ages 5+, and all gamers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a paying adult.