The Art of Video Games

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The Art of Video Games premiered at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2012. Logo - The Art of Video Games - Smithsonian American Art Museum.jpg
The Art of Video Games premiered at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2012.

The Art of Video Games was an exhibition by the Smithsonian American Art Museum which was on display from March 16, 2012 through September 30, 2012. The exhibition was designed to highlight the evolution of art within the video game medium over its forty-year history. Following its time at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the exhibition toured to 10 additional venues in the United States. Chris Melissinos, founder of Past Pixels and collector of video games and gaming systems, was the curator of the exhibition.

Smithsonian American Art Museum Art museum, Design/Textile Museum, Heritage Museum in Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is a museum in Washington, D.C., part of the Smithsonian Institution. Together with its branch museum, the Renwick Gallery, SAAM holds one of the world's largest and most inclusive collections of art, from the colonial period to the present, made in the United States. The museum has more than 7,000 artists represented in the collection. Most exhibitions take place in the museum's main building, the old Patent Office Building, while craft-focused exhibitions are shown in the Renwick Gallery.

Video game electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device such as a TV screen or computer monitor

A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a two- or three-dimensional video display device such as a TV screen, virtual reality headset or computer monitor. Since the 1980s, video games have become an increasingly important part of the entertainment industry, and whether they are also a form of art is a matter of dispute.

Christopher Robert Melissinos is a leading figure in the Java community. He served as Sun Microsystems' Chief Evangelist and Chief Gaming Officer. During his tenure at Sun, he was responsible for the creation of their Game Technologies Group and was a driving political force behind the formation of several open source Java gaming technologies including Project Darkstar, and Java bindings for OpenGL, OpenAL and Jinput.

Contents

Purpose

The Art of Video Games [1] was 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 featured some of the most influential artists and designers during five eras of game technology, from early pioneers to contemporary designers (see grid below). The exhibition focused 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.

Public vote

The Smithsonian American Art Museum invited the public to help select the video games to be included in the exhibition. The 240 games on the ballot were selected by Chris Melissinos, who worked with the museum and an advisory group consisting of game developers, designers, industry pioneers, and journalists. The games were selected based on a variety of criteria, including visual effects, creative use of new technologies, and how the game fit into the narrative of the exhibition. Voting took place between February 14 and April 17, 2011. More than 3.7 million votes were cast by 119,000 people in 175 countries.

Galleries

Visitors to The Art of Video Games at the Smithsonian American Art Museum were greeted by a 12-foot projection that included excerpts from most of the 80 games featured in the exhibition with a chipmusic soundtrack written and recorded by 8 Bit Weapon and ComputeHer. An interior gallery included a series of short videos showing the range of emotional responses players of all ages have while interacting with games. Five themed videos addressing the themes of Beginnings, Inspiration, Narrative, Experience and The Future showcased excerpts from interviews with 20 influential figures in the gaming world—Nolan Bushnell, David Cage, Steve Cartwright, Jenova Chen, Don Daglow, Noah Falstein, Ed Fries, Ron Gilbert, Robin Hunicke, Henry Jenkins, Jennifer MacLean, RJ Mical, Mike Mika, David Perry, Jane Pinckard, George L. Rose, Kellee Santiago, Tim Schafer, Jesse Schell, Warren Spector and Tommy Tallarico. The videos are also available on the museum’s website. [2] A five-channel installation displaying advances in core mechanics illustrated how home video games have evolved dramatically since their introduction in the 1970s through elements like avatars, jumping, running, climbing, flying, cutscenes and landscapes [3] The room also held a selection of concept art from several games of different eras. Five playable games, one from each era, showed how players interact with diverse virtual worlds, highlighting innovative techniques that set the standard for many subsequent games. The playable games were Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower (video game). Interactive kiosks in the final gallery covered five eras of game technology, from early pioneers to contemporary designers, and 20 gaming systems from Ataric VCS to PlayStation 3. Each kiosk featured a game from each of four genres—action, target, adventure and tactics—that visitors could select to listen to commentary, game dialogue and music.

8 Bit Weapon

8 Bit Weapon is a chiptune music band formed by Seth and Michelle Sternberger. 8 Bit Weapon was originally created by Seth Sternberger around 1998. The instrument set of 8 Bit Weapon consists primarily of old 8-bit and 16-bit computers such as the Commodore VIC-20, Commodore 64, Commodore 128, Commodore Amiga 500, and the Apple II, as well as game consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Atari 2600, and an Intellivision synthesizer.

ComputeHer is a band created by Michelle Sternberger in 2005, making music using 8-bit computers and video game console sound chips. She is also a member of the chiptune band 8 Bit Weapon. ComputeHer's most notable work is her contribution to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C. Her music is included in a new exhibition "The Art of Video Games" where she provides the soundtrack to a video of featured video games at the entrance of the gallery. Her Commodore 64 is also on display inside the exhibit. This exhibition is set to travel to multiple cities following its presentation in Washington D.C. in March 2012.

Nolan Bushnell American entrepreneur

Nolan Kay Bushnell is an American electrical engineer and businessman. He established Atari, Inc. and the Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre chain. Bushnell has been inducted into the Video Game Hall of Fame and the Consumer Electronics Association Hall of Fame, received the BAFTA Fellowship and the Nations Restaurant News "Innovator of the Year" award, and was named one of Newsweek's "50 Men Who Changed America." Bushnell has started more than twenty companies and is one of the founding fathers of the video game industry. He is on the board of Anti-Aging Games. In 2012 he founded an educational software company called Brainrush, that is using video game technology in educational software.

Games exhibited

Visitors at the exhibit during its opening weekend at the Smithsonian American Art Museum The art of video games exhibition crowd.jpg
Visitors at the exhibit during its opening weekend at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

The following list of games are those that were selected by Melissinos and the advisory board for inclusion in the exhibition. The exhibition is divided into five chronological eras, showcasing platforms from within that era. For each platform, three games from each of four game genres were initially selected for inclusion, with one game determined by the public voting to be part of the final exhibition. In addition, playable versions of five games are available: Pac-Man , Super Mario Bros. , The Secret of Monkey Island , Myst , and Flower . [4]

<i>Pac-Man</i> 1980 video game made by Namco Ltd.

Pac-Man is a maze arcade game developed and released by Namco in 1980. Originally known in Japan as Puckman, it would be changed to Pac-Man for international releases as a preventative measure against defacement of the arcade machines. Outside Japan, the game was published by Midway Games, part of their licensing agreement with Namco America. The player controls the titular character, as he must eat all the dots inside an enclosed maze while avoiding four colored ghosts. Eating large flashing "Power Pellets" will cause the ghosts to turn blue and reverse direction, allowing Pac-Man to eat them for bonus points. It was the first game to run on the Namco Pac-Man arcade board.

<i>Super Mario Bros.</i> 1985 platform video game

Super Mario Bros. is a platform video game developed and published by Nintendo. The successor to the 1983 arcade game, Mario Bros., it was released in Japan in 1985 for the Famicom, and in North America and Europe for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985 and 1987 respectively. Players control Mario, or his brother Luigi in the multiplayer mode, as they travel the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue Princess Toadstool from the antagonist, Bowser. They must traverse side-scrolling stages while avoiding hazards such as enemies and pits with the aid of power-ups such as the Super Mushroom, Fire Flower and Starman.

<i>The Secret of Monkey Island</i> 1990 point-and-click graphic adventure game developed and published by Lucasfilm Games

The Secret of Monkey Island is a 1990 point-and-click graphic adventure game developed and published by Lucasfilm Games. It takes place in a fantastic version of the Caribbean during the age of piracy. The player assumes the role of Guybrush Threepwood, a young man who dreams of becoming a pirate and explores fictional islands while solving puzzles.

Era 1: Start! (1970s–1983)

PlatformGenreGameYear
Atari VCS Target Space Invaders 1980
Missile Command 1981
Yars' Revenge 1981
Adventure Adventure 1980
Pitfall! 1982
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 1982
Action Tunnel Runner 1983
Haunted House 1981
Pac-Man 1981
Tactics Combat 1977
Star Raiders 1979
Video Chess 1979
Colecovision Target Carnival 1982
Zaxxon 1982
Buck Rogers: Planet of Zoom 1982
AdventureAlcazar: The Forgotten Fortress1985
Gateway to Apshai 1983
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns 1984
Action Donkey Kong 1982
Jungle Hunt 1983
Smurf: Rescue in Gargamel's Castle 1982
TacticsEvolution1982
Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator 1983
Artillery Duel 1983
Intellivision Target Demon Attack 1982
Star Strike 1981
Space Battle1979
Adventure Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 1982
Swords and Serpents1982
Thunder Castle1986
Action Microsurgeon 1982
Tron: Maze-atron1982
Masters of the Universe: The Power of He-Man 1983
Tactics Armor Battle 1977
B-17 Bomber 1982
Utopia 1981

Era 2: 8-bit (1983–1989)

PlatformGenreGameYear
Commodore 64 Target Attack of the Mutant Camels 1983
Paradroid 1985
Raid on Bungeling Bay 1984
Adventure Wasteland 1988
The Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate 1988
Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders 1988
Action Impossible Mission 1984
Boulder Dash 1984
Jumpman 1983
Tactics M.U.L.E. 1983
Little Computer People 1985
Sid Meier's Pirates! 1987
Nintendo Entertainment
System
Target 1943: The Battle of Midway 1988
Top Gun 1987
Life Force 1987
Adventure Final Fantasy 1987
The Legend of Zelda 1986
Shadowgate 1987
Action Mega Man 2 1988
Super Mario Bros. 3 1988
Metroid 1986
Tactics Archon: The Light and the Dark 1983
Desert Commander 1989
North and South 1989
Sega Master System Target Fantasy Zone 1986
After Burner 1988
Missile Defense 3D1987
Adventure Phantasy Star 1987
Heroes of the Lance 1988
Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar 1985
Action Shinobi 1988
Land of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse 1992
Marble Madness 1986
Tactics Gain Ground 1990
Spy vs. Spy 1984
Rampart 1991

Era 3: Bit Wars! (1989–1994)

PlatformGenreGameYear
Sega Genesis Target Gunstar Heroes 1993
Viewpoint 1992
Ranger X 1993
Adventure Phantasy Star IV 1993
Flashback: The Quest for Identity 1992
Shining Force 2 1993
Action Earthworm Jim 1994
Sonic CD 1993
Michael Jackson's Moonwalker 1990
Tactics Herzog Zwei 1990
Dune II: Battle for Arrakis 1994
Nobunaga's Ambition 1986
Super Nintendo
Entertainment System
Target Gradius III 1990
Star Fox 1993
Super Smash TV 1991
Adventure Chrono Trigger 1995
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past 1991
EarthBound 1995
Action Super Star Wars 1992
Super Mario World 1991
Donkey Kong Country 1994
Tactics SimCity 1989
Syndicate 1993
Act Raiser 1990

Era 4: Transition (1995–2002)

PlatformGenreGameYear
DOS/Windows Target Star Wars: TIE Fighter 1994
Crimson Skies 2000
Diablo II 2000
Adventure Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn 2000
Grim Fandango 1998
Fallout 1997
Action Deus Ex 2000
Doom II 1994
Unreal 1998
Tactics Starcraft 1998
Uplink: Hacker Elite 2001
Command & Conquer 1995
Nintendo 64 Target Pilot Wings 64 1996
Star Fox 64 *1997
GoldenEye 007 1997
Adventure The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 1998
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 2000
Paper Mario 2000-2001
Action Super Mario 64 1996
Banjo-Kazooie 1998
Shadows of the Empire 1996
Tactics Worms Armageddon 1999
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 1998
Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber 1999
Sega Dreamcast Target Toy Commander 1999
Typing of the Dead 2000
Rez 2001
Adventure Shenmue 2000
Phantasy Star Online 2000
Skies of Arcadia 2000
Action Jet Grind Radio 2000
Sonic Adventure 1998
Crazy Taxi 2000
Tactics ChuChu Rocket! 1999
Panzer Front 1999
Rhapsody of Zephyr 2001
Sega Saturn Target Panzer Dragoon II Zwei 1996
Black Fire 1995
Wing Arms 1995
Adventure Blazing Dragons 2000
Dark Savior 2000
Panzer Dragoon Saga 2000
Action NiGHTS into Dreams... 2000
Tomb Raider 1996
Clockwork Knight 2000
Tactics SimCity 2000 1999
Blazing Heroes 1999
Command and Conquer 2001
Sony PlayStation Target Einhander 1998
Colony Wars III: Red Sun 2000
Point Blank (1994 video game) 1998
Adventure Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete 1996
Final Fantasy VII 1997
Grandia 1997
Action Metal Gear Solid 1998
Crash Bandicoot: Warped 1998
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee 1997
Tactics Final Fantasy Tactics 1998
Carnage Heart 1997
Command and Conquer: Red Alert 1996

Era 5: Next Generation (2003–current)

PlatformGenreGameYear
Xbox Target Panzer Dragoon Orta 2003
Xyanide 2006
Sniper Elite: Berlin 1945 2005
Adventure Fable 2004
Indigo Prophecy 2005
Shenmue II 2001
Action Halo 2 2004
Jet Set Radio Future 2002
Psychonauts 2005
Tactics Steel Battalion 2002
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 2002
Sid Meier's Pirates! 2004
Xbox 360 Target Geometry Wars 2: Retro Evolved 2008
Ikaruga 2002
Assault Heroes 2 2008
Adventure Mass Effect 2 2010
Limbo 2010
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2006
Action Gears of War 2 2008
Halo 3 2007
BioShock 2007
Tactics Halo Wars 2009
Darwinia+ 2010
The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II 2006
Modern Windows Target Shatter 2009
Everyday Shooter 2007
flOw 2006
Adventure World of Warcraft 2004
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2003
Fallout 3 2008
Action Half-Life 2 2004
Portal 2007
Call of Duty: World at War 2008
Tactics Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty 2010
Age of Empires III 2005
Minecraft 2009
GameCube Target P.N.03 2003
Star Fox Assault 2005
Alien Hominid 2004
Adventure The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker 2003
Tales of Symphonia 2003
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door 2004
Action Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time 2003
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem 2002
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes 2004
Tactics Battalion Wars 2005
Pikmin 2 2004
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance 2005
Wii Target Boom Blox 2008
Blast Works: Build, Trade, Destroy 2008
Sin and Punishment: Star Successor 2010
Adventure The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess 2006
Super Paper Mario 2007
Monster Hunter Tri 2010
Action Super Mario Galaxy 2 2010
Metroid Prime: Trilogy 2009
Epic Mickey 2010
Tactics Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbados' Treasure 2007
Little King's Story 2009
Battalion Wars 2 2007
PlayStation 2 Target Silpheed: The Lost Planet 2001
Espgaluda 2004
Gradius V 2004
Adventure Final Fantasy X 2001
Kingdom Hearts II 2006
Ōkami 2006
Action Tony Hawk's Underground 2 2004
God of War 2005
Shadow of the Colossus 2005
Tactics Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty 2001
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Lockdown 2005
Armored Core 3 2002
PlayStation 3 Target Flower 2009
Super Stardust HD 2007
PixelJunk Shooter 2009
Adventure Dragon Age: Origins 2009
Final Fantasy XIII 2009
Heavy Rain 2010
Action Uncharted 2: Among Thieves 2009
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2010
LittleBigPlanet 2 2011
Tactics Brütal Legend 2009
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - Commander's Challenge 2009
Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution 2008

Subsequent exhibitions

Following its time at the Smithsonian, the exhibit was also shown at ten other venues across the United States, between 2013 and 2016.

Boca Raton Museum of Art Boca Raton, Florida

Founded by artists, the Boca Raton Museum of Art was established in 1950 as the Art Guild of Boca Raton. The organization has grown to encompass an Art School, Guild, Store, and Museum with distinguished permanent collections of contemporary art, photography, non-western art, glass, and sculpture, as well as a diverse selection of special exhibitions. The museum is located at 501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, Florida in Mizner Park.

Phoenix Art Museum Art Museum in Phoenix, Arizona United States

The Phoenix Art Museum is the Southwest United States' largest art museum for visual art. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, the museum is 285,000-square-foot (26,500 m2). It displays international exhibitions alongside its comprehensive collection of more than 18,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art, and fashion design. A community center since 1959, it hosts year-round programs of festivals, live performances, independent art films and educational programs. It also features The Hub: The James K. Ballinger Interactive Gallery, an interactive space for children; photography exhibitions through the museum’s partnership with the Center for Creative Photography; the landscaped Sculpture Garden; dining at Palette, and shopping at The Museum Store.

Everson Museum of Art Art museum in New York, USA

The Everson Museum of Art in Downtown Syracuse, New York is a major Central New York museum focusing on American art.

Book

A companion book, The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect, accompanies the exhibition. It is written by Chris Melissinos, with a foreword by Elizabeth Broun, director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and an introduction by Mike Mika, head of development for Other Ocean Interactive and a prominent advocate for the preservation of video game history. It also includes more than 100 composite images of games created by Patrick O’Rourke. The book, published by Welcome Books in cooperation with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, is available online and at bookstores nationwide (hardcover, $40). [5]

Reception

An estimated 680,000 visitors came to the Smithsonian exhibit during its six-month display period. [6]

The following is a sample of media coverage of the exhibition:

See also

Related Research Articles

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The concept of video games as a form of art is a controversial topic within the entertainment industry. Though video games have been afforded legal protection as creative works by the Supreme Court of the United States, the philosophical proposition that video games are works of art remains in question, even when considering the contribution of expressive elements such as graphics, storytelling and music. Even art games, games purposely designed to be a work of creative expression, have been challenged as works of art by some critics.

<i>Flower</i> (video game) 2009 video game

Flower is a video game developed by Thatgamecompany and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Flower, designed by Jenova Chen and Nicholas Clark, was released in February 2009 on PlayStation 3, via the PlayStation Network. PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita versions of the game were ported over by Bluepoint Games and released in November 2013. An iOS version was released in September 2017, and a Windows version was released in February 2019, both published by Annapurna Interactive. The game was intended as a "spiritual successor" to Flow, a previous title by Chen and Thatgamecompany. In Flower, the player controls the wind, blowing a flower petal through the air using the movement of the game controller. Flying close to flowers results in the player's petal being followed by other flower petals. Approaching flowers may also have side-effects on the game world, such as bringing vibrant color to previously dead fields or activating stationary wind turbines. The game features no text or dialogue, forming a narrative arc primarily through visual representation and emotional cues.

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Art game artistic video game genre

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<i>Barbie Fashion Designer</i> Videogame

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Cutscene

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References

  1. Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Art of Video Games, http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2012/games
  2. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Exhibition Videos, The Art of Video Games, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-06-29. Retrieved 2017-06-17.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) (retrieved 4-3-2012)
  3. Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Art of Video Games, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-05-11. Retrieved 2012-04-03.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link).
  4. Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Art of Video Games, Featured Games, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-12-03. Retrieved 2016-12-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. Welcome Books, http://www.welcomebooks.com/artofvideogames/
  6. Conditt, Jessica (2012-10-02). "Here's how many people saw The Smithsonian's Art of Games". Joystiq . Retrieved 2012-10-11.