The American technology giant Microsoft has announced that it will mark the twentieth anniversary of the launch of its iconic video game console – the Xbox – with a museum that is entirely dedicated to it. Since its launch in 2001 the console has sold over 24 million units around the world making it one of the most popular ways to play video games globally. As such, Microsoft decided that it would create a virtual museum so its many fans could reflect on how the console and the technology that runs it has changed over the years.
The team behind the Xbox museum was set the job of designing a virtual attraction for existing users of its platform. This needed to not only show the development of the console itself but the history of games that were published for it. The virtual museum will cover design ideas that date back to 1999, well before the console was launched and when both it and games for it were in development. To view this material, as well as plenty of virtual exhibits that are much more up to date, visitors just need to head to museum.xbox.com from their browser or from the console itself. All four generations of the Xbox console made by Microsoft will be available to explore in great depth. Clicking on one of the consoles will lead visitors to a subsequent room that will be dedicated to that particular unit and to its specific part of Xbox’s two-decade-long history.
In addition, the virtual museum will feature a Master Chief statue. By selecting it, virtual attendees will be taken to the museum’s Halo exhibit. The Halo museum is focussed on one of the best-selling game franchises to have been released on the Xbox. This exhibit features a giant monument to the so-called Master Chief as well as numerous high-tech and futuristic vehicles that have been drawn from the series. This part of the museum occupies a virtual room, too but it is a larger exhibition space than those which are dedicated to the console itself.
According to the museum’s digital creators, the Halo exhibits offer visitors something of a ‘deep dive’ into one of Xbox’s all-time popular’ gaming franchises. Even people who have never played a game of Halo before will be able to learn about aspects of the franchise’s development, including how Xbox engineers designed Halo-themed controllers and other accessories that were specific to the series.
Those who are more interested in the hardware Microsoft developed for the console – the company had previously been mostly associated with operating system design for PCs among the public – can access lots of information, too. Each iteration of the console has its own virtual exhibition space that contains numerous images and facts about that generation of the Xbox. Anything from its technical development to its marketing release can be traced through these digital exhibits.
The museum also features audio clips – often recorded by important figures at Microsoft – about the strategic decision to get into competing in the video game market with the arrival of the Xbox. According to the museum’s developers, these give telling details about the thought processes that went into the development of each and every console. Each virtual room also holds things like conceptual artwork for the Xboxes, various patents and other information about some of the most popular aspects of the consoles.
In another twist on traditional museum curatorship, users can log in to their own Microsoft account when they attend the museum. If they choose to do so, then they will be able to view a personalised version of the museum. For example, they’ll be able to see statistics about their Xbox usage based on the games they’ve played since the Xbox 360 was launched. Alternatively, visitors can look around without signing in.
About the author – Manuel Charr
Manuel Charr is a journalist working in the arts and cultural sectors. With a background in marketing, Manuel is drawn to arts organizations which are prepared to try inventive ways to reach new audiences.