Snapchat spectacles also among new acquisitions ahead of video games exhibition.
An Xbox controller, a mosquito emoji and a pair of Snapchat spectacles have been added to the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection.
The acquisitions were made as part of the museum’s “rapid response collecting” programme, which began in 2014 and has seen an eclectic range of objects, including an Ikea soft toy, a Jeremy Corbyn T-shirt and a pink knitted pussyhat enter the collection.
The Xbox adaptive controller, which allows gamers with a wider variety of abilities and disabilities to play, is the newest addition.
Corinna Gardner, the senior curator of design and digital at the V&A, said the controller was an industry first and represented an important moment in contemporary design history.
The Microsoft product, which goes on sale this month, allows people to play games as they choose, or as they need. “This openness to adaptability is something deeply innovative and quite unusual,” she said.
“It means that people who maybe don’t have hands dexterity can use their feet or any part of the the body – it makes a variety of games which were inaccessible, accessible.”
Gardner said the story of how the product was made, including the work Microsoft did with charities and war veterans, was also interesting: “It has been a community or a player-based conversation throughout the design process.”
Also significant is the easy to open packaging. Its designers have talked of wanting it to look like a controller, not a medical device.
It has gone on display in the V&A’s gallery 74a and coincides with the museum’s video games exhibition, which opens to the public on Saturday.
Gardner said the aim of rapid response collecting was to bring in objects that are the subject of popular or critical discussion, and which enable broader questions – whether political, social, economic, or technological – to be asked.
The Snapchat spectacles, which launched for a second time in April, are camera glasses that can film video in short 10-second increments. Gardner said they raised questions around how comfortable society is with using head-worn computer hardware in everyday life: “Am I being filmed or not? What is the intent of the person wearing them?”
The mosquito emoji was championed by organisations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs. The idea is to communicate quickly and across language barriers the presence of one of the most dangerous animals in the world.
- Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt is at the V&A from 8 September to 24 February 2019
Cover photo: The Xbox adaptive controller allows people to use any part of the body to play video games. Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum/PA