One of the most passionately discussed arguments of our time, especially to gamers, is the question of whether or not video games can be classified as art. Art, is of course, a completely subjective concept. There are some people, however, that strive to put an objective classification on what art is. Gamers feel the need to prove their hobby to these people and the Smithsonian is going to help them with that.
This article isn’t about that topic though. It’s about the Smithsonian American Art Museum opening its “The Art of Video Games” exhibit on Friday, March 16. The exhibit should at least help convince some people of the artistic merit of video games since these games will be on display at one of the foremost art museums in America.
What is “The Art of Video Games” though? The Smithsonian American Art Museum has the details:
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. It features some of the most influential artists and designers during five eras of game technology, from early pioneers to contemporary designers. The exhibition focuses on the interplay of graphics, technology and storytelling through some of the best games for twenty gaming systems ranging from the Atari VCS to the PlayStation 3. Eighty games, selected with the help of the public, demonstrate the evolution of the medium. The games are presented through still images and video footage. In addition, the galleries will include video interviews with twenty developers and artists, large prints of in-game screen shots, and historic game consoles. Chris Melissinos, founder of Past Pixels and collector of video games and gaming systems, is the curator of the exhibition.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty cool to me. What else is going on at the exhibition? Well, one of the cool things is that they are presenting playable games, one from each era of game design, as the epitome of art for that era in gaming. The games on display will be Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst and Flower. While some people will argue over whether or not these games should have been included as the ambassador of its respective era, I think we can all agree that these are excellent choices nonetheless.
The event isn’t just about seeing and playing, however, as the museum has several events planned over the course of the exhibit for interested parties to check out. The first three days of the exhibition are called GameFest which features a wide variety of events. Unfortunately, the two most exciting events, talks by Nolan Bushnell and Hideo Kojima, are already sold out. Check out the Web site for the other events happening during GameFest to see if they tickle your fancy.
“The Art of Video Games” exhibit will run from March 16 to September 30 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C. You can check out more details and plan your trip on the official Web site.
Are you planning on going? What’s your favorite example of games as art? Let us know in the comments.