Thursday, February 24, 2011

Smithsonian Art of Video Games Exhibit--Vote!

Whatever some close-minded people might think, the Smithsonian American Art Museum believes that video games can be art. They are planning an Art of Video Games Exhibit that will run from March 16 - September 30, 2012. From the description on the museum website:

Video games use images, actions, and player participation to tell stories and engage their audiences. In the same way as film, animation, and performance, they can be considered a compelling and influential form of narrative art.

The Art of Video Games is one of the first exhibitions to explore the forty-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies.
I am very excited by this exhibit and the recognition it will bring to deserving games. What's more, right now we can vote on which games we think should be displayed in the exhibit!

The games are divided into five eras. Start! (1970s - early 1980s) has games from Atari VCS, ColecoVision, and Mattel Intellivision. I was pretty little when we got my cousin's Atari as a hand-me-down, but I remember days of Pac-Man, Missile Command, Space Invaders, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. 8-Bit (1983-1989) has games from Commodore 64, NES, and SEGA Master System. I remember trying Duck Hunt at a friend's house, but I mostly missed this era. Bit Wars! (1989-1994) has games from SEGA Genesis, which I played a lot of back in the day though sadly none of the games listed are games that my family owned (I guess we didn't have very artistic tastes), and the Super Nintendo. Transition (1995-2002) is getting a little more towards my true gaming era, with sections for DOS/Windows, Nintendo 64, SEGA Dreamcast, Saturn, and Sony PlayStation. My old favorites Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (my all-time favorite, really), Diablo II, and Final Fantasy Tactics are there, plus others that I remember fondly (but was less familiar with myself), such as Super Mario 64, GoldenEye 007, and StarCraft. Lastly, Next Generation (2003-current) has games from Xbox, Xbox 360, modern Windows, Nintendo GameCube, Wii, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation 3. Mass Effect 2, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age: Origins, and Portal can be found here, with plenty of other games that are well loved today: World of Warcraft, Fallout 3, Minecraft, Epic Mickey, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Flower, Halo 2 and 3, BioShock, Fable, Oblivion, Half Life 2, and more (whew!).

Some games, particularly the newer ones with (what are today considered) advanced graphics, are easier to recognize as artistic in an aesthetically beautiful sense. Others are artful in the stories they tell, their use of technology to tell those stories, and the ways they interact with the audience. There are many worthy games on the list. So go vote for your favorites! Voting closes April 7, 2011.


Angela said...

OMG!!! This is so awesome. YAY! I am totally one of those people AND artists who think video games are definitely art!

Eleni said...

I know, I really don't understand how one could think that video games can't be art while animated movies can be. Anyway, this exhibit is definitely a win for us video game lovers.