It’s high on my list of alternative things to do in Berlin.
When you think about museums in Berlin, which ones come to mind? Perhaps the Pergamon Museum, the Neues Museum, or the Jewish Museum. Maybe it’s one of the several museums on the city’s Museum Island. While all of these museums are definitely worth the trip, this one might not be on your radar. This museum adds to the alternative, unique, and even the weird qualities for which Berlin is known. It’s the Computerspielemuseum, or Computer Game Museum of Berlin. It indulges in technologies from the last few decades up to the modern day, pertaining to anything and all things gaming.
Personal Note: As I’m writing this blog post, I’d like to dedicate it to the memory of a friend of mine. Syd Bolton was the owner and operator of the Personal Computer Museum in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. Sadly, he passed away recently quite suddenly. I’m very shocked and saddened by his passing. While I hadn’t seen Syd in a long while, I attended his game nights and visited his museum on several occasions in the past. He was an amazing person, a community leader, and often described as “larger than life”. I know that he would have loved the Computer Museum of Berlin so much, so I’m writing this blog post in his memory.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM
Back in 1997, the Computerspielemuseum was founded and opened its first permanent exhibition until the year 2000. Then, for a little over a decade, the museum transitioned into an online only exhibition. However, in 2011, it reopened in the Friedrichshain neighbourhood in Berlin. Within the walls of the museum, there are over 300 interactive gaming exhibits. In its collection, there are 25,000 storage devices with games, over 12,000 magazines, an extensive amount of arcade consoles and computers, and a plethora of computer gaming memorabilia.
As one of the most unique and alternative things to do in Berlin, it’s easy to be fascinated by the history of computer gaming. From the moment we entered and were greeted by the statue of Link from the Zelda video games, we were teeming with nostalgia and good vibes. We wandered around the building and explored the permanent collection, stopping to play any games that we wished. Every sign in the museum was presented in both German and English, which we appreciated.
One thing we loved most about the Computerspielemuseum was the thought and detail in every space. There were several rooms dedicated to recreating specific eras in gaming. There was a retro arcade room with several arcade cabinets. Outfitted with neon lights and kept super dark, it was reminiscent of an arcade from the 80s. You can play whatever games you’d like at no additional cost. I played a little bit of Donkey Kong, and that game is just as tough to beat as it always was.
Beyond the games themselves, an interesting component of the museum was its authentically furnished retro rooms. The Berlin Computer Gaming Museum had rooms from the 60s, 70s, and 80s outfitted properly to every last detail, from the wallpaper to the movie posters. There were retro telephones in the rooms, and of course, gaming consoles that you could play. Justin felt quite at home in the 80s room with the Star Wars poster on the wall and the Nintendo Entertainment System. This could have easily been his room as a kid, had he been born a decade earlier!
GAMES TO PLAY
As you walk around the museum, stop to play whatever games you like and learn about their place in gaming history. Do you remember the Virtual Boy? How about more recent games, such as Wii Bowling? There were ones that I’d never seen anywhere else before, like a racing game controlled by an exercise bike and a Pacman game with a gigantic joystick. And then there were many games I’d never seen in my life and I learned all about them. It wasn’t only a trip down memory lane, but an opportunity to try new games, even if they’re decades old.
It reminded us of a travelling exhibition we visited years ago at the Ontario Science Center, the Game On 2.0 Exhibition. Back home, that exhibit only lasted a few months. Luckily for those living in Berlin (or traveling there), the Berlin Computer Museum is permanent!
Now, this is a one of a kind experience that you won’t have anywhere else in the world, making this museum top the list of alternative things to do in Berlin. Have you ever heard of the Painstation? Well, maybe you’ve heard of a Playstation, but certainly not a Painstation. It’s an original game cabinet developed in 2001.
Two players face one another and play a game of Pong. You use your right hand to control the game, and keep your left hand on a metal sensor. You must keep two of your fingers pressed on two buttons on the sensor. The person who lets go of the buttons first loses. Sounds easy, right?
Well, when a player loses a round, they are subjected to actual physical pain. The pain might be one of three things: the sensor gets really hot and causes your hand to burn, your hand gets whipped by a little whip that comes out of the machine, or you receive electric shocks through your left hand and arm. As the game goes on, the pain gets more intense until it becomes too much and someone lets go. Of course, if you never lose a round of Pong, you will never feel any pain.
This is the only video game I’ve ever played before where I had to sign a waiver before playing!
Don’t be alarmed; it’s actually a lot of fun and you’ll be talking about it for hours after you try it out.
The museum is open 7 days a week from 10:00am to 8:00pm. It’s open all days of the year, even on Christmas and New Year’s! The regular ticket price is €9 or €6 for youth/students/retired/unemployed/volunteers. There’s a reduced ticket price if you visit after 6:00pm, and a reduced price for a family pass. Check out the Computerspielemuseum website for more details.
We stayed at Almodovar Hotel, a vegetarian/vegan hotel in the Friedrichshain district of Berlin. Almodovar is an accommodation with a unique style and design. Furthermore, it’s not only a vegan hotel in Berlin, but completely organic with a focus on sustainability. The style of the rooms reflects Berlin as a whole – modern, lively, and worldly.
I was delighted by the vegan breakfast buffet. I’m glad we spent three nights at the hotel, as there were too many choices to eat everything in one sitting. There were two different kinds of tofu, a Muesli cereal, homemade cashew cheese, prepared faux meats like seitan and vegan chorizo, lentil salad, rice salad, homemade vegan currywurst, tofu scramble, bread, muffins, and croissants. The coffee was robust and fair-trade, and there were also juices and teas.
Speaking of vegan food, Berlin is the vegan capital city of the world! There are options at every turn. However, if you’d like to see my favourites or at least know where to start, check out my vegan guide to Berlin. If you’re looking for alternative things to do in Berlin, I’d stay at Almodovar Hotel, check out the Berlin computer museum, and take an alternative bike tour.
Check out all of our photos from our travels to Berlin, Germany.
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