Make a Day of It: Competing in the Master’s Division at OMSI’s “Game Masters” exhibit

OMSII love science and love OMSI. My family has spent many days exploring the many exhibits, appreciating the fact that all parts of the museum get updated and changed periodically. We have especially enjoyed the special traveling exhibits that only stay for a few weeks to a few months, and when I announced to my “boys” (11, 13, and 42) that I was offered special passes to the Member Preview of “Game Masters,” they were thrilled!

When traveling exhibits open at OMSI, museum members are invited to attend a members-only evening to view the exhibit before it opens to the general public. While the museum closes at 5:30pm, the member preview night allowed us to visit 6-9pm and explore.

Since we’re a running blog, here’s how OMSI relates to running: The Springwater trail literally touches the east side of OMSI. When you go from the museum to the submarine, you take the Springwater, and if you’re running the Springwater, you can make a little loop around the salmon life cycle exhibit. Hood to Coast leg 12 runners will recognize this stretch as the very last bit before handing back off to Van 1, and come July, HTC Race Series will use OMSI as their finish of the new Pints to Pasta course. If you want to stretch your legs with a little run or walk while you’re taking the trip to OMSI, there’s a nice loop starting with the new Tillikum Crossing bridge, heading north along the waterfront to whichever bridge you prefer and heading back south to OMSI on the Eastbank Esplanade and Springwater Trail. The shortest loop is 2.2 miles when crossing the Hawthorne bridge, and each farther bridge will add about one mile (crossing Broadway Bridge brings the loop to 5 miles).

Now for the exhibit experience:

Learning “Gun Fight” (and laughing hysterically when the cowboy falls over after his hat is grazed by the bullet)

The Game Masters exhibit stretches over two floors. On the main floor, it takes up the entire space of the special exhibits area. Then you go upstairs, where the games are temporarily displacing most of the Earth Science and Life Science exhibit space. The games are set up chronologically. At the beginning you will see a row of about 20 classic arcade games. We spent a lot of time facing off in Space Invaders, Gun Fight, and PacMan. The next area highlights the games of the 90s with Warcraft, Diablo, and Mario Brothers, among others. Several informational screens show interviews with game developers and other instrumental people. All games are set up to be played! Signs advise visitors to limit their game time to 15 minutes.

Showing them how it’s done!

Continuing on chronologically, several different Lego video games are set up along the wall (all of them as two-player games). A big game changer was the idea to put the player into the game even more with immersive games such as RockBand and Dance Central. Upstairs, the theme of the games changes again and focuses on “God Games:” The Sims, Minecraft, and many other games give the player divine control to create a world and make decisions for the avatars. Lastly, a variety of board games are open for anybody to play a round.

Game Masters: The Exhibit

We spent over two hours in this exhibit, and could have easily spent longer. Trying all the different games is exciting, reading about the development, evolution, and theory behind different kinds of games is fascinating. If you have ever played any video games, you’ll be happy to reunite with old friends. (I can’t believe how big I smiled when I saw the original Diablo game!) For my teens, who have grown up with touch screens and sophisticated graphics, seeing the beginnings of monochrome screens and 16 color games was novel and exciting. I’ll definitely try to go back before the exhibit leaves in May.

For more information on the exhibit, visit the OMSI website, or the Game Masters: The Exhibit main page.

Game Masters details:
Special exhibit at OMSI until May 8th.
Admission: $3 in addition to regular museum admission (which is $13.50 for adults, $9.50 for youth/seniors)
Memberships are very reasonably priced: For a family of four, the yearlong membership is worth it after just two visits.


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