The Smithsonian American Art Museum has embraced video games as art and part of our culture through a new exhibit called "The Art of Video Games." The highly anticipated exhibit is the culmination of public input on what should be covered in the 40 or so years that games have moved from arcades to our living rooms and phones.
Of the thousands of games that have been created — the Smithsonian's advisory committee whittled it down to a representative 240. From that list, 80 games that spanned 20 different game platforms were chosen during a public vote. Over five weeks the public voted 3.5 million times.
"While this exhibition is not the first exhibition that actually uses video games, it is the first I believe that actually looks at video games themselves as an art form," exhibit curator Chris Melissinos told AFP.
It's a comprehensive exhibit in which the visitor spans the world of games from the classic pixel chomping Pac-Man to the complex world of Myst. These games join Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island and Flower as opportunities to show off your skills with gameplay projected on the wall.
Other games are showcased in everything from video presentations, concept drawings and interviews with industry experts and developers.
It's not just the games on display — the exhibit also includes a collection of classic gaming hardware from the Commodore 64 to the PlayStation 3. After all, there is as much fascinating progression of console design as there has been in the games that we play on them.
The comprehensive exhibit is designed as much to educate those who aren't familiar with gaming as it is a walk down memory lane for those who have been part of it all along. It also helps show the industry is more than just shoot 'em ups. One of the interviewees, game developer Jennifer MacLean was quoted by Yahoo:
"Games just aren't about blowing things up. I'd love to see them enrich somebody's life by helping them learn to feel more, lean to love more, learn to invest more in the world around them."
In keeping with the progressive nature of the exhibit, it is also the first time the museum has run a mini-donation campaign. In addition to viewing a wall of some of those who have already donated to the experience, visitors can text donations to the museum via their cellphones.
Videos and more information on the exhibit can be found at the Museum's website.