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From Alexander S. Douglas to Final Fantasy XVI: OXO Málaga Video Game Museum Tour & Interview

We were itching to pay OXO Museum a visit and here we finally did it. Right in the middle of the just-inaugurated Final Fantasy XVI Exhibition (an official collaboration with Square Enix), we talk with cultural director Santiago Bustamante and offer you never-before-seen video footage from the living museum three-floor experience, including playable retro machines, exclusive FF pieces, and experimental games.

Audio transcription

"Hi Gamereactor friends, we're in Málaga, I'm at the OXO museum and I've been looking forward to coming to the museum, you know, for more than, you know, several months.
You guys started this in January, February if I'm correct, so it's seven months into the history of this museum and I wanted to come and visit the Animal Crossing exhibition, the Call of Duty exhibition, God of War if I'm correct."

"I missed them all, so finally, for the occasion of the inauguration of the Final Fantasy exhibition I'm here and I'm so glad and thank you so much for joining us Santi.
So before we talk about Final Fantasy, what can you tell us about the overall concept, the overall idea that makes OXO a different video game museum?
Yeah, for sure."

"From the starting point we were thinking about building a live concept of a museum of video games, not only living of the nostalgic vision of the history of video games, but also attending and being, communicating the present and the future of video games.
We want this museum to be like a live fire of video games where all that is indeed the video games can be reflected in our museum."

"You don't want to be nostalgic or too nostalgic, but nostalgic is your name.
So OXO, for those that don't know, many video game fans think Pong was the first video game, but why are you guys called OXO?
In this case we want to think deeply about which is the real concept of video game because OXO was born by Alexander Douglas in 1952 and it's a video game which is like a form of Tic-Tac-Toe, very simple, very static graphics, and there's some visions that say that OXO is not really a video game."

"Maybe we can give another example, like the MIT video game called Space Wars in 1962, and over there you have interactive graphics.
So it's another thing we want to discuss in our museum, what is really a video game and where it started."

"Yeah, and it started, you know, when you visit the first floor you guys have this fantastic historical area where we really get to know where it all started, then of course consoles.
Console Wars, there's different brands, and it's very fun, it's very interactive, that's part of the concept as well, but you don't want this to be just fun, you sort of have like a cultural mission here, if I'm correct, for the other exhibitions you have specific curators and you always want to send that cultural message and not just like what is curious about video games, it's deeper, right?
Yeah, for sure."

"We have indeed here in this floor cultural talks, we say OXO talks, where every week we have encounters with other creators and some people involved in the culture of video games to discuss about the video games in real time here, free entry, and we have this mission to be involved in the cultural approach of video games, in a global approach, 360º vision about the video games."

"Okay, and we started this by saying that this is pretty unique in Europe, so we said it's interactive, it's several floors, and the way you present the pieces, it's also very tangible.
I'm shocked that you have very unique pieces, very old machines that we can touch, and what was the reasoning behind this?
Because you don't have a guard or a laser beam pointing at people, so you just trust visitors."

"I was afraid, like you, in our opening, about how could be the behavior of our visitors with the special pieces that we have in this museum.
I think the visitors feel the big effort for our part, and we want to share our passion for the video games, and we want to share the knowledge about the video games in this museum, and I think the visitors accept that role of accepting the game of, okay, we are very respectful with the video games, we also love the video games like you guys, so since the beginning, till now, there's not any problem about that, and I'm really proud about our visitors in this case."

"It's lovely to see every day here in our museum, because we are open every day, since Monday to Sunday, and we usually see generations connecting with our exhibitions, father, kids, grandsons, sharing their love to the video games.
That's because I always say that this also is not only a museum, but also is like a temple, where you came to share and explore your passion to the video games, and share with the people you want to share this passion."

"And now that you've been talking about the visitors themselves, if I'm correct, this is not only about Spanish visitors at all, because Malaga is of course a very touristic place, it is full of museums, it's one of the cities with more museums.
The cities of museums."

"The cities of museums, and you've got a lot of international visitors here, tourists that learned about OXO, and then it's a mandatory stop for them, so what do you think it means for Malaga in terms of tourism, and for example, for Game Reactor viewers, they are all around the world, and now, if they are video games lovers, also museum lovers, this is going to be a mandatory stop for them."

"Yeah, if you came to Malaga, you'll find for sure this museum.
You don't have to search, especially the location of our building, because it's near to the cathedral, in the heart of the city.
We are located in the heart of the center city of Malaga, and well, when you come here, you don't have even to search the location of OXO, and that's because all days we receive the visitors from all the countries, internationally visitors, and that's because our panels, our information is for sure, and of course, explained in English and in Spanish, both English and Spanish."

"Both English and Spanish, okay.
And we move from the first floor, which is historical, to the second floor, which is the one we are currently, and this is all about temporary exhibitions, so you went from these three games that we mentioned, more or less six months, I don't know if that's the time you estimate for these to be available, so tell us a little bit about the ones that came before, and a little bit about the new Final Fantasy collection."

"We started offering a global vision of the concept of sagas in video games.
We were discussing about the differences between sagas, literature sagas, and cinema sagas, and the differences with video game sagas.
We started offering a vision with Animal Crossing, three different sagas, Animal Crossing, Call of Duty, and God of War, and it works really well with our visitors, offering a mission experience, offering a wider approach to the saga, offering information and our information about the video games."

"In this case, we changed completely this floor, dedicated, fully dedicated to Final Fantasy.
It's the very first time we have official exhibition by Square Enix, and us, and OXO is on a museum here in Europe, and you are seeing this floor, I think it's amazing to explore the history, the legacy of Final Fantasy, which is such a big video game, an iconic video game in the history of video games, and you can explore not only the last and the newest entry of Final Fantasy, but also since the beginning, you can play and you can enjoy the Final Fantasy in their first approach, their first release."

"The first platform, you can play on the NES, on the Famicom, on the first PlayStation, etc., all around here, and then other than the assets that Square Enix has provided, you guys also have some pieces from a private collection by a fan that's provided those pieces and it's amazing."

"Yeah, it's amazing because this guy, called Juanjo, is really a special collector of things, special things of Final Fantasy, like you can see a guitar, electric guitar, a Fender edition of Final Fantasy, you can see a mini-disc gadget, you can see a smartphone, all the things you can imagine related with Final Fantasy, almost all of them are in this museum and I think it's a very unique opportunity to see special objects, very special objects related to Final Fantasy."

"Okay, and that's the second floor, this is temporary, so we can expect this to be available until February, March next year, 2024, and then we get to the third floor, and that's more experimental.
I like that, it's more like a garage sort of approach to it, like an indie approach to it that you guys are showing different, more experimental things, different concepts of video games as well, so what can you tell us about that?
And of course about the support that Kaiju, which is the company behind this, provides in terms of development as well."

"Yeah, in this floor, maybe we are exploring the boundaries of video games, we are exploring which are the limits of the video games, because there are several games that explode your brain, like Line Wobbler, which is designed by Robin Baumgarten, and you are playing with a led wire, with led lights, only no screen at all, and you are playing a video game."

"So it's a special and unique opportunity to think deeply about the concept of video games, what are video games, what are not video games, and we have also simulators, dancing simulators, classic simulators of Sega, of course VR Square over there, it's a floor where we are working in real time and we are trying to offer a global vision of video games in terms of the boundaries of video games."

"And finally, as we said, this is a pretty unique concept for a museum, it's a live museum, it's very tangible, you have sort of the archaeology side of it, then you have more modern approaches and more modern things, what would you say has been the feedback from everybody here?
As you said, families, the companies you have to talk with, this is groundbreaking in a way, so when you call them and say, hey, this is a museum, I guess some people really don't understand video games in this context, what is the sort of feedback you got from those and from the companies as well?
If this were a relationship, we are knowing each other, we are taking closely each other, and we think we are knowing also the city of Malaga, and we are receiving feedback every day, and I think they say that it's a very big effort for our part to share the original hardware, the original version of the video games, and you can play without no emulation that video game, I think that is very unique if you are thinking in other vision of video games."

"And also, we are open every day, and every day we are receiving visits, and also we are offering every week cultural talks and cultural activities to our visitors, so they think we are a living museum, that's our mission, our goal in these days, and for sure we are hearing suggestions, hearing new ideas to grow up since the beginning, we have only several months in our operation."

"All right, and after Final Fantasy, can you give us a clue of what's coming next for the Temporary Exhibition?
I have to say, he said this."

"I would say that we are knowing also the companies, the developers, and they are knowing us closer, so we are talking with several companies right now.
We want to make some big exhibitions, very ambitious, but at this moment I have no any word to say."

"I have to say, he said no emulation, and it's very interesting because you got this giant Game Boy, and it's an actual Game Boy inside, so it's tear apart, and then it's a Game Man, it's a Game Boy, but it's no emulation, so that's really nice.
So I don't know if you have anything else that you want to say about what you guys are doing, but yeah."

"We are growing, we are growing up, and we are building from the very start a special project, building not only a video game, also a temple, as I said before, and we are open to like a white blank, white Canva in this moment, trying to see where to go, where to grow up since this point, but I'm hopefully very excited about the new ideas incoming in OXO Museum."

"It's that I can say for the moment.
All right, you've heard.
During our talk you've been seeing my tour with the camera, but it's not the same as I said."

"OXO is very tangible, so I recommend you guys come here, visit.
This is Malaga City Center.
This is the old town.
This is underneath the cathedral, so you guys have to pay a real visit, and thank you so much for your time, Santi."

"So we're looking forward to seeing what's next.
Have you enjoyed?
A lot.
A lot."





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