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Smithsonian explores the art of video games

April 27, 2012|By Jamie Wetherbe
  • Chris Melissinos, chief gaming officer for technology company Sun Microsystems, helped curate the exhibit.
Chris Melissinos, chief gaming officer for technology company Sun Microsystems,… (Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty…)

Art is in the eye of the beholder, or in the case of the Smithsonian's new exhibit, the gamer.

“The Art of Video Games” takes game-boys and -girls through four decades of video game history showcasing interviews of early game creators and footage of close-ups of people's responses to game play.

Like placing Picasso’s collages amid Cubist counterparts, the exhibit puts early games into industrial context, as well as it represents a variety of different consoles including Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStation. Instead of hanging paintings, games are projected across gallery walls.

There's also a handful of games to play: From the 1981 version of Pac-Man, in which a circle consumes pellets and avoids similarly shaped ghosts, to 2009's Flower, in which players fly over colorful terrain like the wind collecting flower petals while individual blades of grass sway along.

The topic of the new exhibit invites the question: Are video games art?

Chris Melissinos, chief gaming officer for technology company Sun Microsystems who helped curate the exhibit, says games belong in galleries.

“Video games are literally the collision of technology and art,” he told the Washington Post.

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