Xbox Virtual Museum Lets Gamers Relive Their History of Play

Celebrating the franchise's 20th birthday

We are what we play.

To wit, immersive gaming engages the hearts and minds of die-hards so thoroughly that the experience transcends scores, pixels and escapist entertainment. Gameplay becomes a transportive passion, leaving an indelible mark, molding personalities and informing worldviews IRL.

Even casual gamers get caught up in the sights, sounds and competition. Hours melt away as eyeballs follow the on-screen action, and real-world anxieties melt away, if only for a while.

Such dynamics inform Xbox's virtual 3-D museum. Developed by Active Theory to celebrate the Microsoft platform's 20th anniversary, the impressively detailed venue offers deep dives into the franchise's history.

Users explore the museum as avatars, traversing bold exhibits feting titles and consoles of yore. They can also log into their Xbox accounts to relive personal gaming histories and share them via social media.

The tactile and virtual worlds meld. Each complements the other, transcending the sum of their parts. This clip offers a taste, but doesn't do justice to an informative, impeccably crafted and immensely engaging campaign:

20 Years of Xbox Museum

"Twenty years of Xbox is a massive occasion, and we wanted to give the anniversary the attention it deserves," Active Theory strategist Eddie Benson tells Muse. "Given that the Xbox audience itself is familiar with 3-D environments and gamification, an interactive museum was a great fit. The venue—or 'microverse,' as we refer to it—is a connected space designed for the community. Users join together in the same space as they explore the museum, making it memorable for all."

In terms of look, feel and functionality, "we didn't fixate too much on museums or galleries," so prevalent in the online space during Covid times, Benson says.

Instead, the team drew inspiration from its recent 3-D digital work on behalf of the Sundance Film Festival. "This included being mindful of having the camera view high enough to see content with other avatars in front, making the museum footprint massive to fill the frame, and varying the size of different content to represent a hierarchy of information," Benson says.

"We started with moments and visuals that we felt would resonate and be nostalgic for Xbox fans," he adds. "This involved looking at how the graphics and visuals of different generations of Xbox over the years, ranging from the evolving UI in the menu screens to iconic games themselves."

Click the images to enlarge:

Along with achievements, the museum features missteps and foibles, such as the infamous "Red Ring of Death" flashing power-button lights that indicate system errors requiring service.

"Honoring this moment is an honest and refreshing take on what's otherwise an uplifting branded experience," Benson says.

The Halo-themed section provides upbeat highlights, arriving amid a major reboot of the game, trumpeted in recent ads from agency 215 McCann:

Halo Infinite - Forever We Fight- Official Full Length

In the gaming community, the museum's personal wing has clearly struck a chord, with sundry fans and commentators chiming in. Isaiah Colbert's take on Kotaku proves delightfully pithy and trenchant, as he writes:

"My bright-eyed nostalgia led me to believe my museum would showcase Bioshock Infinite and The Witcher 3 prominently as my beginnings as a gamer. But like a house party where your loud friend spills the tea on what actually happened, Xbox threw cold water on me and revealed my gamer past didn't play out quite how I remembered it. My first gut punch of embarrassment ... came from the revelation that DmC: Devil May Cry was one of my first Xbox 360 games. That's right, not the goofy, "woohoo pizza" Dante we all know and love, but Ninja Theory's Netflix-esque adaptation of the series with a Donte, a swearing, black-haired punk who knows what sex is, allegedly."

Like I said—we are what we play. Thankfully, we mature and grow. (Most of us, anyway.) Over time, tastes change, and players yearn for fresh challenges and deeper connections. Which Xbox oh-so-addictively provides. When the red rings flip to green, gamers and games evolve together. 

CREDITS

MICROSOFT
Director of Digital Engagement, Xbox - Miriam Vargas
Senior Marketing Manager, Xbox - Henry Liu
Senior Marketing Manager, Xbox - Kevin Hooper
Director of Digital Engagement, Xbox - Ryan Klingler
Senior Franchise Manager, Halo - Corrinne Robinson
Principal Data Engineer, TCS - Swapnil Gosawi
Azure Architect, TCS - Hugh McGough
Systems Design Engineer, TCS - Jacob Stewart
Marctech Director, TCS - Nishant Mohan
Content Director, ten100 - Andrew Stephan
Senior Content Manager, Ten Gun Design - Jessica Rose Fabroa
Senior Content Manager, Ten Gun Design - Erin Treat

ACTIVE THEORY CREDITS

DESIGN
Creative Director - Andy Thelander
Design Director - Sean Hobman
Senior Dreamwave Designer - Aaron Kim
Senior Art Director & 3D/Motion Designer - Thieb Delaporte-Richard
Design Lead - Isaac Garcia
3D Artist - Mo Elkholti

DEVELOPMENT
Technical Director - Mike Chang
Interactive Director - Michael Anthony
Technical Artist - Michael Sungaila
Front End Developer - Luis Henrique Bizarro
Front End Developer - Jonatas Santos
Junior Front End Developer - Andrew Alva
Junior Back End Developer - Kazi Jawad

PRODUCTION
Senior Producer - Kate Blair
Senior Producer - Matt Murkidjanian
Strategist - Eddie Benson
Director of Client Services - Cassie Jackson

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