Articles

The Art of Video Games

September 24, 2019


I’m Georgina Goodlander. I’m the exhibition
coordinator of the Art of Video Games at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
The Art of Video Games explores the evolution of video games as an artistic medium over
the last 40 years. We show 80 video games, over 20 systems and 5 eras.
We believe that for video games being and artwork, it has three voices:
It’s the artist or designer that created it, that had a message that it wanted to portray.
The mechanics of the game itself is the second voice. So the game structure, the rules,
how you play it. And then the third one which is the most
interesting one, I think, is the player. The fact that the video game can’t be an artwork
unless somebody is playing it and that everybody has a slightly different experience.
So we picked five different games, one from each era of video games and games that we
really felt were pivotal in their era. They influenced all games that came after them
and those are: PacMan, The original Super Mario Brothers,
Secret of Monkey Island, which is a personal favorite, Myst and Flower. Being an exhibition coordinator means doing a lot of different things. I was involved in almost
every aspect of the exhibition, so I worked very closely with the curator (Chris Melissinos)
as he was coming up with the games for the exhibition; I had to talk to all the game
companies to make sure that they were ok with us using their games in the exhibition.
One of my favorites was the opportunity to interview video game designers. We interviewed
a whole range of people, from the people that designed the games, develop the games, people
that do the writing, the musicians, the artists. I had to research all the games that were
in the exhibition; I hadn’t played them all before. So actually during the day, as
part of my work, I got to play video games. I mean what could be better than that?
The Art of the Video Games is travelling to ten other cities around the U.S. through 2016. I think if you’re interested in working with art and working in museums, it’s just
kind of getting out there and experiencing as many of them as you possibly can. I’ve
always been fascinated with museums. Whenever I go to a new place, new country, new city,
I always check out at least one museum. To find out more about this exhibit, visit
the The Art of Video Games site at americanart.si.edu. You can also find out if it’s coming to
a city near you. And you can find more games and art at Kids.gov.

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