This past weekend, I had the chance to go to The Art of Video Games exhibit at the Smithsonian. Let me start off by saying “You go Smithsonian!” for finally accepting video games as an art.
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 features some of the most influential artists and designers during five eras of game technology, from early pioneers to contemporary designers. The exhibition focuses on the interplay of graphics, technology and storytelling through some of the best games for twenty gaming systems ranging from the Atari VCS to the PlayStation 3. Eighty games, selected with the help of the public, demonstrate the evolution of the medium. The games are presented through still images and video footage. In addition, the galleries will include video interviews with twenty developers and artists, large prints of in-game screen shots, and historic game consoles. Chris Melissinos, founder of Past Pixels and collector of video games and gaming systems, is the curator of the exhibition.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge video game fan. I am also studying some programming at the moment, although I have no intention of becoming a video game programmer. I really like the Ed Fries quote because a lot of people think programming is a bunch of code and logic, but when you think about what a programmer is making, it really is art. Besides, there is logic in all art, regardless of what it is.
The exhibit looks at many different aspects of video games as an art form, such as coding, visuals, concept art, and music. Honestly, this was the first time I went to an exhibit that I truly enjoyed. I could relate to it because I have played so much, but the exhibit presented the material in a way that anyone could walk in and understand. There were great visuals, timelines, and stations available for you to play many classic games, some that you might have forgotten about. They even had games set up in the courtyard (including one station with Space Channel 5, which pretty much made my day)! I encourage you all to try to find a chance to visit if you can. The price is right after all (can’t argue with free)!