Playing Games at The National Video Game Arcade!

posted in: Blog, UK | 63

Jess, who’s 13, writes: Mum, dad, Robert and I were all really excited to visit the National Video Game Arcade in central Nottingham (about two and half to three hours away from London). It contains the biggest collection of video games in the United Kingdom, and is full of classic arcade games, games in development, new and famous games and exhibitions. We couldn’t wait to get started!

We spent four days in and around Nottingham, and created a video about the best bits (including the arcade). Please take a look below…


Before you go into the arcade, there is lots to do. Mum and dad headed to the blue-screen photo booth, Robert ran over to a table tennis table and I tried out a game where you had to flick rubber discs around a track. However, we had to go inside to see what else was on offer, so we headed upstairs.

Dash & Bash
Me and dad playing Dash and Bash – my favourite game!

Once we got up there, our family all ran to different games. Mum and dad ran over to some classic arcade games with joysticks and strange buttons, Robert ran to an XBox table tennis game and I eyed up a fun looking multiplayer game named Dash & Bash. Soon enough, our family was having a heated competition! The objective of the game was simple – you had to find your card and press it before anyone else. I found that I was surprisingly good at it, and the game quickly became very competitive indeed! It was my favourite game out of the whole arcade.

Next door was a game which took up an entire room – Mission Control. Here, there were two players, and they both wanted to collect as many power-ups as possible. What made this so special was that you were able to change special characteristics about the object you were playing as, such as what you looked like or how often you spawned. It was really cool to see your changes happening on screen just after you’d changed them on the control panel.

There were arduinos by the exhibition to show how it was powered

We met Iain, the manager of the arcade, who told us that it aimed to be full of games that you can’t play at home. True, there is Minecraft, but there are also lots of other unique things to have a go at which we really enjoyed. It was fun to play things that we had never seen before.

Iain also said that the centre wanted to be really transparent and are keen for everyone to see how things work, so games often have information next to them explaining this. One example is in the “Jump” exhibition, where you can see circuit boards next to the screen showing how it works. There are also wires going down the middle of the stairwells showing how the TVs are powered.

Mum and Robert loved a game where you used table tennis bats to hit monsters on a screen. The monsters were falling down the screen and you had to to stop them from touching the bottom by bouncing a table tennis ball off them. While I am terrible at table tennis and only managed a game for about a minute, Robert and mum were able to go for much longer.

Table Tennis
Robert and mum really enjoyed the table tennis game.

The building is several stories high, and is full of lots of different games to have a go at. Our whole family played a driving game where you could place objects onto the floor. The virtual cars were obstructed by the objects, letting us create tracks and paths to drive around. I had fun playing the game that Minecraft was based on, and had a go at a strange early Nintendo game where you placed things onto a screen, thereby creating music.


We all played each other at Guitar Hero (I was terrible, and only somehow managed to beat Robert), and played Mario Kart on an exercise bike! I spent ages trying to play Tetris with a really strange controller, and enjoyed trying out Super Mario on a really old Nintendo device. I loved spending time at the arcade as we don’t have video games at home.

Guitar Hero
Mum was surprisingly good at playing Guitar Hero…

Upstairs, there were different exhibitions to visit. One was all about jumping in video games, and was full of demonstrations and things to play. We walked through an interactive corridor where you could see how different video game characters jumped, and then entered a room filled with loads of games.  I particularly liked one where you got to change different aspects of the game, such as the colour of your character, the angle at which they jump and the amount of gravity there was.

The Jump-O-Tron
Robert and I enjoyed experimenting with the Jump-O-Tron

I changed my character so that I was coloured green, blue and purple and made it so there was almost no gravity at all. As soon as I jumped onto the mat, I shot upwards, reaching 100m in just less than four seconds. I was given a receipt with the details of my jump, and went over to the rest of the exhibition. There were loads of games centred on jumping, and we enjoyed competing with each other to see who could get the highest scores. I know that Mum also enjoyed seeing some of the older exhibits and got nostalgic when playing a game on a Sinclair Spectrum computer!

National Video Game Arcade
We were sad to say goodbye…

Overall, there is something for everyone at the National Video Game Arcade. We spent ages having fun, messing around, and ultimately playing loads and loads of games. I especially enjoyed seeing how the exhibitions were powered by looking at the circuit boards, and competing against the rest of the family at Dash & Bash. We spent the majority of the afternoon here, and all had a brilliant time. As there is a mixture of old and new games, I recommend it to everyone of every age. If you have a free afternoon in Nottingham, this is a must!

Disclosure: The National Video Game Arcade is open Friday to Sunday during term times, and from Tuesdays to Sundays in the holidays. Full-day tickets are £8.50, concessions are £6.50, and under 5s go free. You can go upstairs to the cafe (and play Dash & Bash!) for free. Full pricing information can be found here and there are also regular camps and different exhibitions. We were given free tickets to the arcade through Experience Nottinghamshire, but they had no involvement in this piece and all views are my own.

More by me:

Becoming Reporters, Recyclers and Radio Presenters at Kidzania London

Keeping Cool in the Summer – Sledging and Skiing at The Snow Centre

We’ve joined up with Monday Escapes – pop over to find more travel inspiration! We’ve also linked up with City Tripping!

Travel Monkey

63 Responses

  1. Christine

    That sounds amazing although I fear I’d never be able to drag the rest of the family out if they got in there!

    • Jess

      Everyone had so much fun, and I loved playing the game that inspired Minecraft – I would love to show it to my friends…

  2. Sue Reddel

    National Video Game Arcade sounds like a perfect place for families to spend the day. Looks like there are games for every age and experience level too. I love playing Guitar Hero I could spend hours on that alone!

  3. Jocelyn

    Looks like tons of fun! We have a few little arcades here, but there is a pinball “museum” a little bit away that I want to check out sometime soon 🙂

  4. zof

    Wow, I’ve never played any video games, but I feel like I could try it out in this place…

  5. Meg Jerrard

    Sounds like a brilliant way to spend the day!! I’m not sure you would ever get me to leave … especially if they have Guitar Hero hehe! Guitar Hero was huge in our house and I would play off against my brothers and sisters, so it sounds like this would be an awesome trip down memory lane!! Love it! So glad you all had a fantastic afternoon 🙂

  6. Sonia

    Oh we haven’t been here yet, We live in Nottingham too, I just keep forgetting about it. It sounds fab x

  7. Stephen

    The video at the beginning is fantastic and the entire place looks brilliant, so much fun to be had, especially on a Segway!

    • Jess

      Thank you very much! We had a fantastic time in Nottinghamshire, and the Video Game Arcade was a particular highlight.

  8. Hannah Wood (staveley)

    Looks like a fun cool place be good for when my kids are older.

    • Jess

      We had such a great time! It was really exciting to play old games which we hadn’t heard of before.

  9. Cathy (MummyTravels)

    What a great review – this sounds so much fun. I’d heard of this opening but hadn’t realised quite how much there was inside, and how interactive it would be (as well as how much there is which isn’t simply on a screen). I think I’d be a bit nostalgic for the Spectrums as well, and that noise they made when loading up the game – seems incredible that I used to wait happily for half an hour for that to happen! Thanks for linking up to #citytripping

  10. Wander Mum

    Such a fantastic concept! There’s definitely something for everyone here! know I would have loved the Sinclair Spectrum too – great for a bit of nostalgia. I can imagine you could spend hours here and I’m sure it would be hard to drag away hardcore video game fans! Thanks for sharing on #citytripping. Great review Jess.

  11. lisa

    I’d heard of this opening but hadn’t realised quite how much there was inside, and how interactive it would be (as well as how much there is which isn’t simply on a screen). I think I’d be a bit nostalgic for the Spectrums as well, and that noise they made when loading up the game – seems incredible that I used to wait happily for half an hour for that to happen!

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