Dr. Nohs Asks What is Worth Exhibiting?
The Smithsonian American Art Museum will be holding an exhibit from March to September of next year titled The Art of Video Games. According the the exhibit’s website “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’s exciting to know that the idea of video games as an art form is gaining wider acceptance, but I think I might already have some qualms with how the exhibit is being set up.
According to the website “The exhibition will feature eighty games through still images and video footage.” First, I don’t think a choice of 80 video games could effectively show what gaming is. If you consider everything that could be a part of the exhibit besides consoles, PC, and their games, there’s also handhelds, mobile devices, tablets, LCD handhelds (Tiger, Game and Watch, etc.), mp3 players, and even graphing calculators. Pretty much anything with a screen has video games available for it. If you consider this, 80 games is too small of a number to explore the vast world of video gaming.
Second, I have an issue with the fact that still images and video will be used to exhibit these 80 games. If video games are an art form, then why have another medium portray them in their stead? This would be the equivalent of going to a concert, but instead of hearing music being played, you went to the venue and read about the music.
“Five games will be available for visitors to play for a few minutes, to gain some feel for the interactivity—Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower.” Finally! Wait, only 5 games!?
I think I understand the problems with this exhibit. Because videos are a product of mass production, it probably makes less sense to have a large amount of video games playable since most of the games being exhibited are readily available through retail stores or digital distribution. I can only imagine the amount of parents dropping off their kids for the afternoon because they can’t afford or don’t want to pay for daycare. It would probably be the classiest arcade ever.
I think the title an focus of the exhibit should be changed from The Art of Video Games, to The Art Behind Video Games. I guess it’s too much to ask for now, but in the future, I want to be able to go to an exhibit, play a video game, and let the art speak for itself.
Here’s a complete list of games that will be on exhibit. What would you like to see added or removed?
1943: The Battle of Midway
Advanced Dungeons and Dragons
Attack of the Mutant Camels
Dune II: Battle for Arrakis
Final Fantasy Tactics
Final Fantasy VII
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2
Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Metroid Prime 2: Echos
Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei
Panzer Dragoon Orta
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Phantasy Star IV
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns
Shadow of Colossus
Sid Meier’s Pirates!
Spy vs Spy
Star Fox™: Assault
Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator
Super Mario 64
Super Mario Brothers 3
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Mario World
The Bard’s Tale III: Thief of Fate
The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure
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