The Boca Raton Museum of Art is getting pixelated with its latest exhibition, “The Art of Video Games,” on display from October 24 through January 13.
For many, video games are a diversion, a means of entertainment to fill the gaps between sitcoms or NFL games. But for others, video games act as an escape, a diverse and varied reality that ranges from bouncing plumbers crushing animated mushrooms to graphic first-person shooters where the fate of Earth depends on finding an ammunition pack. Whether a causal player or an avid gamer, everyone can agree on one thing: The artistic vision of video games has become quite remarkable.
Through the 40-year evolution of gaming, video games have gone from 16-bit, pixelated "Pong" beams to unbelievably layered graphics, creating virtual worlds that are an art in and of itself. “The Art of Video Games,” organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and curated by Chris Melissinos, author of the exhibition companion book, The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effect, pulls back the curtain on video games to an extent where the gaming aspect is removed and explores the art of the system. In a way, this helps remove the stigma and preconceived notions many have toward the electronic diversion, giving visitors a new look at the medium.
Broken into five distinct video game eras, the exhibit is as much a historical overview of the billion-dollar industry as it is an artistic exhibit. Starting from the humble Atari beginnings, “The Art of Video Games” explores the different eras through 80 games for 20 systems (from Atari VCS to PlayStation 3) using still images and video footage of each. The galleries also include video interviews with developers and artists, historic game consuls (Remember Magnavox Odyssey and Atari 2600?) and blow-up prints of screen captures. Ever want to know what it feels like to blast some aliens in Duke Nukem? Here’s your chance. And how could a video game art exhibit be complete without a little hands-on activity? Each era will include a game for visitors to play. Try your hand at classic titles Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers and The Secret of Monkey Island; the adventure game that helped define the genre, Myst; and modern marvel of video gaming technology and artistic rendering, the PlayStation 3 title, Flower. Each game helped pave the way for new technological advancements, set the bar for artistic ingenuity and sucked more hours of adolescent time into the screen than most adults would care to admit now.
Tap into your inner gamer for “The Art of Video Games,” on exhibit at the Boca Raton Museum of Art from October 24 to January 13. For the enthusiast, November is chalked full of special exhibition programming, from designing your own video game level and character to curator talks and walks. For a full schedule and tickets, visit the website here.
501 Plaza Real
Boca Raton, FL 33432