The Art of Video Games
The Art of Video Games is a groundbreaking exhibition exploring the legacy of video games as a medium for artistic expression. Curated by Chris Melissinos, former chief evangelist and chief gaming officer for Sun Microsystems and Founder of PastPixels, the exhibition will give viewers an opportunity to explore the evolution of video games since they were first introduced 40 years ago. The Art of Video Games focuses on the interplay of graphics, technology, and storytelling.
“Video games are a prevalent and increasingly expressive medium within modern society,” said Melissinos. “In the 40 years since the introduction of the first home video game, the field has attracted exceptional artistic talent. Video games, which include classic components of art, offer designers a previously unprecedented method of communicating with and engaging audiences by including a new element, the player, who completes the vivid, experiential art form by personally interacting with the game elements.”
The exhibit highlights some of the best games for 20 gaming systems ranging from the Atari VCS to the Playstation 3. It will feature 80 video games presented through still images and video footage. In addition, the galleries include video interviews with developers and artists, historic game consoles, and large prints of in-game screen shots. Five featured games, one from each era, will be available in the exhibition galleries for visitors to play for a few minutes to gain some feel for interactivity. The playable games – Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower – will demonstrate how players interact with the virtual worlds, highlighting innovative new techniques that set the standard for many subsequent games.
A companion book, The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect, written by curator Chris Melissinos, with more than 100 composite images of featured games by Patrick O’Rourke, will be available for purchase in the Museum Store. The book, published by Welcome Books in cooperation with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, examines each of the 80 featured games, providing a behind-the-scenes look at their development and innovation, and commentary on the relevance of each in the history of video games.
The Art of Video Games is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with generous support from the Entertainment Software Association Foundation; Sheila Duignan and Mike Wilkins; Shelby and Frederick Gans; Mark Lamia; Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk; Rose Family Foundation; Betty and Lloyd Schermer; and Neil Young. Promotional support is provided by the Entertainment Consumers Association. The C.F. Foundation in Atlanta supports the museum’s traveling exhibition program, Treasures to Go.