Light Cycles: 40 Years of Tron in Games & Film Debuts at Chicago Gamespace Tomorrow

While in 2023, there still exists a subset of people who fail to see video games as art, and instead condescendingly relegate the work of countless artists over the past five decades to something only basement dwellers enjoy or understand, the reality is that video games are art, and the more astute among us have known that to be true for decades, having grown up with the medium as it emerged, evolved and ultimately, became what it is today—an art form that not only stands out for its unparalleled ability to immerse players in a narrative or directly involve them in the action, but also one that’s dominated more traditional art forms to become more lucrative than the music and film industries combined. 

Over 40 years ago, a filmmaker named Steven Lisberger got a glimpse of breakout Atari success Pong and was immediately inspired by a then-emerging medium—video games. He was so excited by Pong that he immediately started dreaming up a concept for an animated movie called Tron. After quite a few iterations, quite a few changes (including a jump from an animated film to a live action film), it found its way to Disney and the rest is history. 

Tron was released on July 9, 1982, and would go on to be a cult favorite, with stunning visuals and an engaging narrative that would even garner a few Academy Award nominations. It also inspired its own video game based on the film, which hit the arcade scene due to local video game company Bally Midway’s infatuation the same year the film came out. 

Image courtesy Chicago Gamespace

But that was just the beginning of the Tron legacy, with a decades-long fascination with that original concept turning into more games, more films, and some truly fantastic artifacts. This legacy represents the emerging art of video games capturing the nation’s imagination and the way that video games and film could inspire one another. 

As the franchise hit 40, the folks at Chicago Gamespace, an educational and interactive museum dedicated to preservation and education about video games as an art form, were inspired to bring the Tron legacy to light in a brand new way, with their exhibit Light Cycles: 40  Years of Tron in Games & Film

This is a unique opportunity to not only learn about the history of the franchise by examining artifacts and walking the timeline in person, but to actually get a chance to immerse yourself in a carefully curated recreation of Flynn’s arcade, which includes some of the games inspired by the film, like TRON: Legacy Pinball by Stern or Discs of Tron, all generously provided with the assistance of the Logan Arcade, so you can experience Tron in a brand new way while learning all about its history. 

Image Courtesy Chicago Gamespace

Light Cycles' special opening night preview at Chicago Gamespace is set for tomorrow night from 5-7 pm at with an afterparty to follow at the Logan Arcade.

Public hours for Light Cycles will be Saturdays and Sundays from February 17 through May 7. If you’d like to book a visit, buy tickets or find out more, click here.

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Marielle Bokor