Would you consider Super Mario Brothers or Donkey Kong to be artistic works? Many would say “no”, but in our every increasing digital world, it’s clear that our perceptions of what should be considered art are quickly changing.
For the first time, a new exhibition,The Art of Video Games, aims to showcase the 40-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium. The exhibition, which will run from Friday, March 16 through to September 30th at Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC, will finally give many video gamers the artistic recognition they deserve and have been eagerly awaiting for over the past few years.
Chris Melissinos, Curator of the exhibition and a former chief gaming officer for Sun Microsystems, told the Washingtonian:
“Video games are more than what people believe them to be…these are not pieces of content spit out of a soulless machine. These are works that are born out of people’s imagination and dreams and their desire to tell stories that reflect society,” he said.
Melissinos added that video games are a unique art form because they involve three different voices: the designers who craft the world and tell the story, the game itself and the mechanics of how it’s played, and finally the player, who may use the medium’s interactive nature to experience it in a wholly different way than the next person.
The Smithsonian Museum allowed the public to vote for the 80 games that will be on display at the exhibition and these are to include: Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers 3, The Legend of Zelda, Earthworm Jim, and Fallout 3. Four games from almost every console–from the ancient Atari to the sleek PlayStation 3–will be presented through still images, video footage, and even some available for visitors to play.
One of these playable games is PlayStation 3’s Flower, a simple but beautiful game in which the player controls the wind, scooping up fields of flower petals and whisking them over dying pastures and decaying buildings,restoring their vibrancy and colour. For Melissinos, this game truly exemplifies the artisitic capability of video games.
“I was playing Flower and I had just breathed life back into this grey building, and it hit me very emotionally. I had to stop for a moment, because it transported me back to a time as a child, looking for that color in the world. I believe it is in those moments that art is achieved,” he told the Washingtonian.