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New York, New York, United States
Mostly visual art and air guitar.

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Monday, March 18, 2013


    The Museum of Modern Art has permanently added 14 examples of groundbreaking digital interactive entertainment (i.e. video games) to their Architecture and Design Collection - by recognizing the many elements of aesthetics, storytelling, creative logic, etc., that are essential (but not always implemented) in each game, countless enthusiasts and experts who have long championed the legitimacy of video games as artistic experiences now stand to gain a distinctly more esteemed appreciation of what was once considered a hollow and superficial pastime.

    Drawing from an incredibly rich timeline of candidates to represent this first wave of video-game-as-art, commercial and critical successes such as Tetris, Another World, Pac-Man, Sim City 2000, Myst, Katamari Damacy, The Sims, vib-ribbon, Portal, flOw and EVE Online, among others, held particular significance with their simplicity, innovation, graphics, simulations, details, personalities, atmospheres and narratives; the collection is expected to later include 27 more games that encompass the initial search criteria as well as other defining factors. Visitors to this new collection are afforded opportunities to interact directly with some displays - though occasionally the physical controls could malfunction due to human abuse, as is often the case in reality- while other games are much more immersive (EVE Online, The Sims, Myst, Sim City 2000) and shown as demo videos. The installation allows for a handful of observers to congregate around each screen (approximately 55" high in the walls) without interfering with adjoining games, though hand sanitizers are highly encouraged. Headsets are provided with the playable games and a looped mix of snippets from famous themes  like "Super Mario Bros." is set as the exhibit's ambient music.

    Currently this collection can be found in one corner of the Architecture and Design exhibit, but hopefully will earn its own dedicated gallery when the new games are eventually selected. It is quite likely that once a more complete lineup of video games has been established, all displays would become less immediately engaging due to unnecessary repairs of broken controllers and shift to a picture-in-picture presentation of actual gameplay and players' hand movements. Despite the fact that video games are explicitly designed to require user input to extract their potential, not everyone who goes to museums will sit in Dale Earnhardt's car, fire a Civil War cannon, play Jimi Hendrix's guitar, flip through Salvador Dali's sketchbook or use a Neanderthal's stone hammer.

    By and large, the MoMA's initial foray into truly digital realms should serve as a welcome beacon of hope to other generations of diverse artists that toil unceasingly on their craft in the event that some day even one culmination of efforts be preserved as a worthy contribution to culture and society.

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