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Issue Date: Vol. 52, No. 4, April 2012, Posted On: 3/22/2012

'The Art of Video Games' Opens At Smithsonian

Marcus Webb
Smithsonian American Art Museum, exhibition on videogame art, video game gart, National Endowment for the Arts, classic coin-operated models, home video console, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Marble Madness, Super Mario Brothers, the Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy, Super Mario Galaxy, Chris Melissinos

The Art of Video Games

WASHINGTON -- The Smithsonian American Art Museum's exhibition on videogame art features 80 landmark games spanning the medium's 40-year history, along with video-recorded interviews of designers and programmers, as well as live performances, lectures and symposiums.

Museum officials said the videogame industry "has attracted exceptional artistic talent" and that games comprise "an amalgam of traditional art forms -- painting, writing, sculpture, music, storytelling, cinematography -- [that] offer artists a previously unprecedented method of communicating with and engaging audiences."

Featured games put the spotlight on classic coin-operated models and home console titles. They include Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Marble Madness, Super Mario Brothers, the Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy and Super Mario Galaxy.

Exhibit contents were determined by 3.7 million votes cast by 119,000 people in 175 countries in an online poll. Exhibit curator Chris Melissinos, a former game executive at Sun Microsystems, said 240 nominees were selected based on new technology and striking visual effects.

The exhibit will be accompanied by a performance of videogame music by the University of Maryland's Gamer Symphony Orchestra on April 29. Atari founder Nolan Bushnell gave a talk on videogame history at the museum on March 16. | SEE VIDEO

The exhibit runs in the nation's capital through Sept. 30, then travels to 10 cities nationwide. A list of dates and participating venues is available on the Smithsonian's website.

The U.S. government first declared videogames to be an art form in spring 2011, when the National Endowment for the Arts announced it would fund games as art projects. | SEE STORY

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