Games ARE art, the museum says so

2 min read

The Museum of Modern Art has so far acquired 21 video games of the 40 games they are striving for to be installed in a new exhibit: Applied Design.  You may be surprised by which games were selected so far, but I doubt many people would argue the intrinsic artistic merits.

In chronological order, the games are:

  • Magnavox Odyssey (1972)
  • Pong (1972)
  • Space Invaders (1978)
  • Asteroids (1979)
  • Pac-Man (1980)
  • Tempest (1981)
  • Yar’s Revenge (1982)
  • Tetris (1984)
  • Another World (1991)
  • Myst (1993)
  • SimCity 2000 (1994)
  • vib-ribbon (1999)
  • The Sims (2000)
  • Katamari Damacy (2004)
  • EVE Online (2003)
  • Dwarf Fortress (2006)
  • Portal (2007)
  • flOw (2006)
  • Passage (2008)
  • Canabalt (2009)
  • Minecraft (2011)

If you are wondering about the criteria for selection, the MoMA explains:

The games are selected as outstanding examples of interaction design—a field that MoMA has already explored and collected extensively, and one of the most important and oft-discussed expressions of contemporary design creativity. Our criteria, therefore, emphasize not only the visual quality and aesthetic experience of each game, but also the many other aspects—from the elegance of the code to the design of the player’s behavior—that pertain to interaction design. In order to develop an even stronger curatorial stance, over the past year and a half we have sought the advice of scholars, digital conservation and legal experts, historians, and critics, all of whom helped us refine not only the criteria and the wish list, but also the issues of acquisition, display, and conservation of digital artifacts that are made even more complex by the games’ interactive nature. This acquisition allows the Museum to study, preserve, and exhibit video games as part of its Architecture and Design collection.

I could certainly agree with these, even if many are very boxy – I mean, from Tetris through till Minecraft!  But truly, these are definitely works of art and I’m very curious which other games the MoMa is pursuing.  Geez, I remember when I first played Myst – I was completely lost, confused and enthralled.  This gives me yet another reason to get back to New York City for a visit!

Last Updated: July 2, 2013

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