States of Play: Roleplay Reality

  • 22 March 2018 - 17 June 2018


This interactive exhibition considers how roleplay - found in many video games - can be used as tactic to reflect, contest and move beyond real-world power structures. No longer to be understood merely as a place of escape, the game realm and the ‘real world’ have collided. 



"States of Play: Roleplay Reality is, hands down, the most emotionally effecting exhibition I’ve seen. From start to finish it is immersive, uncomfortable, upsetting, relatable, relaxing and terrifying. It’s a brilliant exhibition" - Art in Liverpool

"Combat games are heavily associated with violence and toxicity, but with a peak of over three million concurrent players, we should ask ourselves to what extent does a virtual world provide a platform for real connection?" - Corridor 8


Download the gallery guide here.



As changes in technology enable a broader range of people to make games, the limitations of commercially driven high-budget titles have been accentuated. Gamergate, a volatile scandal which exposed deep-rooted sexism in the industry, showed not only that the physical and virtual are inseparable, but also exposed the radically differing views that make up today’s game culture. This constantly shifting landscape is set against a wider backdrop of global uncertainty: the rise of right-wing extremism; the contesting of traditionally predominant narratives by previously marginalised voices; as well as an ever-increasing convergence between the physical and virtual, fact and fiction.

Within this context, States of Play: Roleplay Reality brings together artworks and industry games to explore how the roles we play expose our true realities: with all of our contradictory motivations, biases and assumptions. The result of this can be joyous and disturbing, freeing or subjugating, but now - more than ever - it is impossible to separate our physical identities with the roles that we take up in virtual space.


Curated by Lucy Sollitt and Lesley Taker.


Family Activity Pack

Why do we play games? How do video games reflect our identities? Who makes video games?

This activity pack is designed for you to discover the exhibition and go deeper in issues such as identity and empathy. Feel free to discuss the space, works, or programme with our mediators, or discover what is inside the art trolleys for activities.


Free of charge, take one from the information desk at FACT or download here.


Education/Learning Pack

Designed for schools and educators bringing students to visit FACT during the exhibition. It includes an outline of the artwork on show, as well as a learning objectives, gallery discussions and post-visit ideas to stimulate the learning process around the themes of our exhibition.


Download the Education/Learning pack here.