museum: The Art of Video Games

I can’t believe I hadn’t heard about this before now! The Smithsonian American Art Museum will be featuring an exhibit on The Art of Video Games from March 16–September 30, 2012.

The Art of Video Games is the first exhibition 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. The exhibition will feature some of the most influential artists and designers during five eras of game technology, from early developers such as David Crane and Warren Robinett to contemporary designers like Kellee Santiago and David Jaffe. It also will explore the many influences on game designers, and the pervasive presence video games have in the broader popular culture, with new relationships to video art, film and television, educational practices, and professional skill training. Chris Melissinos, founder of Past Pixels and collector of video games and gaming systems, is the curator of the exhibition.

The best part is that they’re also soliciting public voting to help select the 80 games that will be featured in the exhibition. From February 14-April 7, 2011, SI is inviting us to vote, their only caveat being that the games voted for should be “visually spectacular or boast innovative design!” The voting site lets you peruse the games of five eras which I suspect will also be a feature of the exhibit next year:

  • START! (1970s–early 1980s) The beginning of the home video game revolution.
  • 8-BIT (early 1980s-early 1990s) The game industry reinvents itself after a collapse in the market.
  • BIT WARS! (early 1990s–mid-1990s) When technology and artistry collide, an explosion of creativity ensues.
  • TRANSITION (mid-1990s–early 2000s) Artists move from two dimensions to three.
  • NEXT GENERATION (early 2000s–Today) The foundation for the present, and future, of video games.

Flipping through the voting screens, I saw a lot of favorites from back in the day and the past few years. I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore gamer, more of an old-school one. If it was a gaming system or computer, I had it or had access to a friend with one from the Atari & Intellivision consoles right up to my triumvirate today of Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360. And while most gamers wouldn’t be able to wax poetic on the art that makes up their game worlds, they know that playing wouldn’t be the same without it, and if you’d read any gaming review sites, you’ll know that without a rich environment in which to play, gamers won’t give it a second look.

I just wish I didn’t have to wait so long for the exhibit to come to DC! Still, it will be the perfect way to welcome Spring next year and since I’ll have likely spent most of the winter inside playing video games, I can use this as a gateway activity to getting out of the house. :mrgreen:

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