How the city's gaming community has backed a fundraising campaign to save Sheffield's beloved National Videogame Museum
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The museum, which celebrates videogame culture and preservation, moved to Sheffield in November 2018 and last year attracted a record number of visitors, with thousands coming through the doors in one week.
It houses an extensive and highly-impressive collection of videogame memorabilia in addition to retro video games, including Donkey Kong and Space Invaders that are decades old.
Multiple consoles around the room entice visitors to play games from their childhood, bringing back a strong sense of nostalgia with every press of a button.
NVM’s communications manager, Conor Clarke, said: “One of the best things we’ve seen is how anybody, no matter what age, could just come and sit opposite someone, play a game with them and bond.
“There’s a real social aspect, particularly when you come into the museum. Our multiplayer games allow up to eight players.
“Seeing random people sitting down, bonding, having a laugh, having so much fun, is one of the great parts of what videogames do, it brings people together.”
The museum was forced to close its doors in mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused huge losses for British Games Institute who own the exhibition.
Conor Clarke said: “It nearly destroyed the business, we are run independently and obviously as we are quite new we were really reliant on visitors coming and buying a ticket to come into the museum.
“Overnight in March last year, we saw our revenues drop by about 85 per cent when we couldn’t allow anyone in, so it was pretty much make or break time."
After struggling to receive support from the UK Government, a successful crowdfunding campaign was launched with the initial target of £80,000 and ran for three months.
Fortunately, the museum exceeded its fundraising goal and raised just over £200,000 with support from the public and videogame companies.
On Monday, February 22, the government announced that museums and galleries could reopen on May 17 at the earliest.
Conor said: “I think first and foremost we want to reopen and we want to reopen safely, we want to see people coming back to the museum.
“There is a lot of anxiety at the moment, as to whether the confidence will be back to visit venues like our own. We’re confident that we have so many safety provisions in place, and we are totally happy to welcome members back if they’d like to visit.
“If we can kind of write down what the next few years will look like, then hopefully we can continue to grow and to do more in regards to videogame preservation and exhibition.”
For the majority, gaming is just a hobby and uses up a few hours of their spare time, but the love of gaming can also become harmful and impact young people’s lives.
Conor said: “When you play a lot of games, it can become a pathological obsession, you stop doing things that you should be doing in life, so I think it’s definitely about playing games in moderation.
For more information about the museum, visit https://thenvm.org/